Ronnie Silva, Bol Akot, DJ Frechette and Matt Corey. If you asked me to look ahead and predict who the top players in NHIAA D-I boys hoops would be during the 2016-2017 season, all four of the aforementioned players would be on my short list.
Frechette would have been a candidate for D-I Player of the Year, Silva and Corey would be preseason all-state picks and Akot (Manchester, NH) would have been one of the state's most highly touted incoming freshmen. All four of these talented kids are headed off to prep school.
Frechette transfers from Nashua South and will repeat his junior year at Governor's Academy in Byfield, MA. Frechette reclassifies to 2018. Fellow Nashua product Silva (Nashua North) will do the same, reclassifying to 2018. Silva is headed to Bradford Christian Academy. Nashua North and South would have been two of the favorites next year in D-I. Londonderry would have also been one of the favorites next year, but Corey is transferring from there to Worcester Academy. Corey will repeat his sophomore year and reclassify to 2019. Frechette and Silva are AAU teammates with the DC Blue Devils, while Corey plays for the Rivals Basketball Club.
Then there's Akot. Akot dominated middle school basketball last year while playing for Hillside in Manchester. Akot had a huge summer on the AAU circuit, making the top 40 all-star game at the CP3 Rising Stars national showcase. He'll never play a game in the NHIAA though, as Akot is headed to Proctor Academy where he'll play alongside Derry's Geo Baker (Rutgers commit), Londonderry's Caleb Green (Holy Cross commit) and Manchester's Tshiefu Ngalakulondi (over 10 D-I offers).
But wait, there's more! The following players are also transferring from the NHIAA to prep school:
Alex Swett transfers from Exeter High to Phillips Exeter Academy, reclassifying to 2019. He'll play alongside his older brother Ben, who will be a senior this year.
Last season Prospect Mountain took on Newfound Regional. Marcus Peterson of Newfound poured in a whopping 44 points in defeat, while Prospect Mountain's Zac Bennett dropped 25 in the win. Both of them are going prep. Bennett is an incoming sophomore at national power Brewster Academy, while Peterson will repeat his freshman year at New Hampton, reclassifying to 2020.
In addition to Newfound and Prospect Mountain, another NHIAA D-III program loses a talented youngster to the prep ranks. Rowan Niemela transfers from Conant to Winchendon. He will repeat his sophomore year, reclassifying to 2019.
Where does this leave the D-I landscape? Portsmouth (moving up from D-II to D-I) was already going to be the favorite. Londonderry, North and South would have been three of the Clipper's biggest challengers, but with their losses this makes Portsmouth an even bigger favorite. Another team to watch out for is Winnacunnet. Coach McKenna's squad made the Final Four last year, and have some key pieces returning like Liam Viviano, Zach Waterhouse, Freddy Schaake, James Morse and Logan Keene.
With that being said, if fans want to see New Hampshire's top local hoops talent, they will have to be going to prep school games.