Five boys’ basketball players to watch
►Alex Hilger , Natick: The 6-foot-3 senior point guard not only led his team in scoring at 18 points per game last season, but he is also the reigning MVP of the Bay State Conference’s Herget Division. Hilger is regarded as a complete player by his coach, Jay Johnson , capable of creating havoc on the defensive end and a skilled scorer who can pile up points from anywhere on the court.
►Elijah Rogers , Brookline: Last year as a junior, the 6-foot point guard averaged 14 points per game. He possesses a deadly jump shot with excellent range, skills that could make eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau a formality in his senior season. But according to coach Luke Day, it is his confidence, high basketball IQ, commitment to defense, and ability to involve others that makes Rogers one of the region’s best players.
►Sammy Mojica , Brimmer & May: A year after averaging 19 points per game and piling up more than 500 on the season — efforts that earned him New England Preparatory School Athletic Council third-team honors — the 6-3 senior point guard has been named the Gators’ captain. The ultra quick and agile Drexel recruit is expected to lead the Chestnut Hill school’s team in scoring, while also creating uncontested shots for teammates, matching up defensively against the opponent’s best player, and rebounding at both ends of the court.
►Michael Stamas , Algonquin Regional: Though just 5-foot-8, Stamas was one of the more productive players for the Tomahawks a year ago. Besides averaging 12 points per game and shooting nearly 45 percent from beyond the arc, he also had 5.5 assists and 5 rebounds per contest — second most on the team. This year, the junior cocaptain should be the focal point for opposing defenses.
►Chris Moberg , Hopkinton: As a first-team Tri-Valley League all-star in his junior season, the 6-3 forward averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds. Moberg is a wide body with incredibly strong hands who collects most of his points from offensive rebounds.
Five boys’ basketball teams to watch
(Listed with 2013 records)
►Brookline (14-9): The Warriors feature a formidable senior twosome of Elijah Rogers and 6-8 center Obi Obiora, both of whom were key contributors to last year’s squad, which lost in the Division 1 South semifinals to Mansfield. Though eight seniors graduated in June, Brookline returns three of its five starters, including 6-3 junior Tyler Patterson.
►Newton North (20-4): At this point it’s almost a given that the Tigers will reach the Division 1 South semifinals after doing so for eight straight seasons. However, this year’s team has the potential to go even farther. Junior guard Tommy Mobley — last year’s Bay State Conference Carey MVP — will carry the burden offensively, but Newton North should also receive solid contributions from a number of other players, including two seniors: 6-foot-3 guard/forward Liam Bruno and 6-foot guard Jack Boucher.
►Natick (13-8): The back-to-back defending Bay State Conference Herget champions boast four senior captains, all of whom are familiar with winning. Besides capturing consecutive league titles in basketball, the quartet of Troy Flutie, Alex Hilger, Colin Leddy and Justin Robinson also led Natick’s football team to the Herget Division crown this fall.
►Rivers (14-10): Though the Red Wings finished in the middle of the Independent School League last year, a strong influx of freshman talent, led by 6-6 forward Jermaine Samuels (Franklin), gives them the potential to compete for a league title. Sophomore Justin Leip, a 5-foot-8 guard, will be a steadying back-court presence in pressure situations, while 6-foot-7 senior forward Andrew Kaufman, who is headed to Swarthmore, and 5-foot-9 senior point guard Carlin Haymon, a Brandeis commit, will provide experience and leadership.
►Watertown (13-8): A year after reaching the second round in the Division 3 North bracket before losing to North Reading, the Raiders return three key players from last year: 6-4 senior center T.J. Hairston, and the starting senior back court of Cesar Fulcar and Kevin DiPietrantonio.