Holiday Invitational

Wilbraham & Monson brings talent-rich squad to Holiday Invitational

Posted December 25, 2013 Holiday Invitational

Wilbraham and Monson Academy, a Wilbraham, Mass., prep school making its first trip to the Holiday Invitational, is making it easy for college scouts this season.

While it’s common for the Holiday Invitational to host teams with two or even three high level college recruits, the Titans boast seven players ranked as three-star or better by ESPN — most notably UNLV signee Goodluck Okonoboh, the No. 4-ranked center in the Class of 2014.

“I think we have a bunch of guys who are committed to one another,” Titans coach Chris Sparks said. “They work extremely hard, especially on the defensive end. We have a lot of interchangeable parts and a lot of athleticism.”

Along with Okonoboh, Indiana signee Max Hoetzel (three-star, wing), will also be a key for WMA’s success in the Invitational.

“We have some great leadership,” Sparks said of Hoetzel, who is in his first year with the Titans. “He brings a lot of different things to our team.”

Juniors Jalen Adams (four-star, point guard) and Luis Montero (four-star, shooting guard), along with sophomore Mustapha Heron (five-star, small forward) help round out one of the most talent-rich teams the tournament has ever seen.

However, Sparks said fans may walk away from the Holiday Invitational most impressed by Curtis Cobb, who has received 11 scholarship offers, and beginning to see some interest from area ACC schools.

“He’s a 6-foot 5-inch junior wing for us,” Sparks said of Cobb. “He’s extremely talented and until this past summer he was being recruited by (mid-majors). Now his recruiting is skyrocketing. I think he’s going to impress a lot of people; he’s kind of flying under the radar right now.”

He added that Marcell Pitway, a 6-foot 6-inch junior, is a bruising, yet undersized post player who excels on the interior.

“He loves to screen, he loves to bang, he loves to rebound,” Sparks said of Pitway. “He’s going to look to score around the bucket and one of the best attributes that he has is that he is a space eater.”

With so many highly recruited player, Sparks said having his team playing in such a competitive tournament atmosphere can only be a benefit — not just this season but through their basketball careers.

“I remember going as a college coach and recruiting and I was so impressed with it then,” the former Central Connecticut and University of Pennsylvania assistant said of the Holiday Invitational. “When I took over (at WMA) six years ago, I looked at it as a gold mine to get to this tournament.

“I always felt like it was one of the premier tournaments (in the country) and for our school to get invited feels like we’re going in the right direction.”


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