Twitter: @ STABHoops
St. Anne's Belfield School (Charlottesville, VA)
Conference: Virginia Prep League (VPL)
Classification: Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I
2018-19 overall record: 17-11 (9-3 in conference)
Being one of the primary private school conferences that I scouted last season, the VPL contains seven programs within Central/Southern regions of Virginia and should become even more interesting to watch this winter. A large portion of players return to their respective programs, most of whom had individual standout years in league play. I personally feel it's up for the taking in whoever secures bragging rights as the VPL's top team; there's still months until conference play begins but the shaping up of things clearly shows that possibility. Regardless of whatever happens, I absolutely have St. Anne's Belfield, aka STAB, on my list of Virginia schools that college coaches need to see. They continued to perform better as each game passed during 2018-19 VPL competition and return a good chunk of firepower to their roster.
What We Know
- I had the chance to cover the championship contest of the VPL conference tournament this past February, where STAB took on the reigning champions, Trinity Episcopal School (Richmond, VA), for their third matchup of the season. The final score of 66 ' 61 would ultimately end in the Titans' favor. Still, I and others couldn't help but admire the fight STAB had given both in that game and all tournament long. The evening prior to the title game, they had defeated a veteran-heavy Collegiate School (Richmond, VA) team, 52-48, in an exceptionally impressive fashion. After moving on from the VPL championship loss, STAB had only a couple days before the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division I state tournament officially began. The bunch would end up successfully beating Catholic High School (Virginia Beach, VA) in the opening round before seeing their season come to a close in a 69-49 defeat by Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) powerhouse, Paul VI Catholic High School (Fairfax, VA).
- My most recent coverage of STAB in a game-type setting occurred a few months ago at Session I of the 'Virginia Live Period Shootout,' a first-time event hosted by Blue Ridge School (St. George, VA). I know it was only in the midst of the summer but I must say the Saints gave off a very strong impression that they can be one to reckon with quite soon. I saw good team chemistry already in their offensive sets; they moved the ball around for cutting opportunities and open perimeter just as well as anyone else I watched in those three days on Blue Ridge's campus. I could tell a few college coaches in attendance obviously noticed the standout play of STAB's players also; a couple of returners picked up verbal Division I offers either during or not long after that weekend.
- On my late-afternoon Thursday open gym visit, I learned that a few of STAB's pieces are occupied at the moment and the seven present players mainly went through 3v3 scenarios. Of course, there's only so much one can judge while watching 3v3 but I saw some notable physical and skill improvements within the young guys. In addition, I've learned over the years that 3v3 indeed serves as a beneficial form of competition. I mean, hey, Tony Bennett, the head coach of the University of Virginia 2019 NCAA national championship squad, spoke highly of it himself when I partook in a chalk-talk session amongst his staff four years ago.
- Six seniors have moved on from the 2019 STAB group. Headlining that senior core was Dalton Taylor, a two-time VPL All-League selection (2018 ' 2019). The Saints will obviously miss his reliable nightly production of 11.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, and 1.3 spg. That being said, plenty of strong contributors return and I feel STAB will do well in not having to deem one particular player who's known as 'that guy.' They don't need a 25 ppg scorer or anything like that. There's some young products, undoubtedly, but also great size and advanced IQ within that same youth.
Who to Watch
Nick Reese '20 ' The sole captain back from 2018-19, Reese has more experience than any of his peers as a TRUE veteran. He's busy with football right now but I've seen enough of the 6'0' guard's game in the past to know how versatile he plays for STAB. His ball skills and IQ make him capable of managing either guard spot. Defensively, Reese contains such a toughness that his coaches can assign him to neutralize pretty much any position. He's a strong example of 'heart-over-height' when it comes to both ends of the floor. The senior knows how everything operates, system-wise, and can change the course of a game with enduring grit alone. Spectators saw this in that 2019 VPL championship when Reese went on a second half tear to end with a team-high 17 points and collect All-Tournament honors.
Malachi Poindexter '20 ' One of the most underrated guards returning to the VISAA, in my own opinion, I think folks are bound to really see just how good Poindexter is with the ball in his hands. Simply put, he's always had that natural feel of getting buckets. Off of the bounce or as a spot-up guy, the 6'3' guard shoots it at an exceptional clip and can take over in spurts for a barrage of jump shots at different levels. He's taller, stronger, and hoping to start his senior campaign more healthy compared to in the past. At the 'Live Period Shootout,' he especially looked better as a playmaker, specifically using the pick-and-roll at an effective rate with his big guys. That improved area makes him even more lethal if he can show it consistently in his arsenal. But, at the end of the day, it's most fun to watch him when he gets hot on the scoring end. Manhattan College offered this past summer back on June 24th.
Justin Taylor '22 ' Following an impressive recognition as the sole freshman selected to the 2019 VPL All-League team, opposing teams will likely center on Taylor the most in their scouting reports. It's for good reason too: he's 6'4' and one of the best underclassmen shooters I've seen in Virginia. On Wednesday, the scoring guard continued that trend in competitive 3v3 play but looked even better creating for his own. That's a scary sight when considering he has a height advantage of 6'5' at his position and smooth footwork. Taylor also appeared stronger and quicker; growing more in his physical presence. His skill makes him tough to contain and he's similar to Poindexter in being another one who can heat up for personal scoring runs. Ranked as one of the state's top 2022 prospects, Taylor led the team in scoring last season 13.3 ppg (also 5.1 rpg) and holds offers from James Madison, Old Dominion, and Liberty University.
Ethan DeLaurier '21 ' After making an appearance in the majority of STAB's games last year, this could emerge as a breakout one for the 6'6' stocky forward. Being the brother of current Duke University forward Javin DeLaurier '20, there's some similarities in the two's defensive attributes first and foremost. Ethan shows good anticipation for deflections and finds his way for blocked shots quite often. He also has enough size to make opponents have to work hard for finishes through him; usually outmuscling them. On Thursday. I liked the pivots in his footwork around the basket more than anything. He does well using back-to-the-basket moves for hook shots and pump fakes before completing them. Adding onto that could make him a solid two-way post option.
Carter Lang '23 ' Lang caught my attention as a man-child eighth-grader last season and still has the appearance of the strongest big fella returning to the Saints. Standing at 6'7,' the left-handed freshman performed well with 3.4 ppg and 3.9 rpg as the only non-high schooler on STAB's roster last year. He's physical guy who already thinks the game well and works hard in the paint for his offense. Defensively, he uses his own frame to make it hard for whoever's up against him in a similar way to Ethan. It works more times than not and should immediately send a message to most teams both in and out of conference. Lang can step out to the perimeter a bit but still seems to be fully instilling that within his game.
Eli DeLaurier '23 ' Another product of the talented DeLaurier family, Eli does things likewise to his older brother, Ethan, and Lang as another front court player. However, he's much more wiry, already around 6'5,' and can use that length to a great extent. I watched him total many blocks on Thursday; getting a hand on the ball at will. When he faces up with the ball, Eli tries to aggressively use long strides and stretch towards the rim (again, showing how that length comes in handy). Growing into and figuring out his own body still has time to happen, which leads to him playing a bit raw at the moment. There's plenty of upside to like in the forward's basketball body and effort though. He works really hard to succeed in making winning plays. I see that as one of his best intangibles currently and something he should stay prideful of.
Where You Can Find Them:
- 64th Annual Sleepy Thompson Basketball Tournament, hosted by St. Stephen's St. Agnes School (Alexandria, VA); December 5-7, 2019
- Benedictine Capital City Classic Tournament, hosted by Benedictine College Preparatory School (Richmond, VA); December 27-29, 2019
A Word from the Head Honcho
'We’re really looking forward to the upcoming season and working to build on last year’s foundation. Our offensive strength will again be in our backcourt with the experienced trio of Justin Taylor, Malachi Poindexter, and Nick Reese and we have three primary bigs (Carter Lang, Eli DeLaurier, and Ethan DeLaurier) whom we’re excited to see grow throughout the year. Replacing Dalton Taylor '19 at the point guard position will be a challenge, but both Nick and Malachi have shown tremendous progress at that spot throughout the offseason. Our style will certainly be a little different than it has been the past two years, where we’ve often played 5 guards, but, with this year’s personnel, we’re should be able to mix things up a little more on both ends of the court.'
– Head coach Damin Altizer (2nd year)
I never truly like making predictions too early but this year's STAB team has had me intrigued since they fell short of that VPL championship. When acknowledging who is back for them and the other opposing teams around the conference, I see Altizer's group placing in one of the VPL's top three spots. Nationally recognized as a skills trainer and owner of 'DR1VEN Training,' I have no doubt that he'll continue to get his guys skilled up to reach (or exceed) their full capabilities. With next-level promise oozing all over the returners and an 'unfinished business' mentality likely on their minds, we can just sit back and enjoy what STAB has to showcase this year.
Oh, and by the way, STAB sure has some nice athletic facilities on their boarding school grounds. It became impossible to not notice when I was roaming around, looking for the gym!