reddit email print
Brady Cummins attempts a reverse layup during York High’s run to the Class A state championship game last winter. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer
Buy this Photo
Dominick Campbell and Brady Cummins could have been two of the best seniors in Maine high school basketball this winter.
Campbell, a powerful 6-foot-8 post player with a feathery touch, led Waynflete to the Class C South final in 2020; Cummins, a high-flying 6-foot-6 wing was coming off a Varsity Maine All-State season for Class A South champion York.
Instead, the two 17-year-olds decided to transfer to out-of-state prep schools and repeat their junior seasons in order to raise their profiles as NCAA Division I recruits. Campbell is now at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and Cummins is attending Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts.
“I knew the path I was going on in Maine, it wouldn’t change much unless I made some big changes,” said Campbell, a Scarborough resident.
“I knew a prep school would be best for me and I also wanted to pair athletics with the academics and Phillips Exeter is one of the best schools in the nation.”
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has muddled things. Neither Cummins nor Campbell will have a true season with their prep school teams this year. Brooks School and its fellow members of the Independent School League have canceled winter sports.
Phillips Exeter isn’t scheduled to have students return to campus until Feb. 11.
But both hope get an opportunity to show their skills this summer and then have a full prep season next winter. They didn’t transfer because of the pandemic. Both started investigating and visiting prep schools well before anyone in Maine had heard of COVID-19. But they do realize that having an extra year of high school puts them in an advantaged position compared to their former Class of 2021 peers.
“Looking back on it, reclassifying was a very good decision because of COVID and the (Class of) 2021s not getting as much look as they should have because of recruiting restrictions and college players getting another year of eligibility,” Campbell said.
Campbell, who lost 40 pounds between his sophomore and junior seasons at Waynflete, is working on chiseling his considerable bulk and getting fitter. He already had offers on the table from Division I programs Boston University, McNeese State and Central Connecticut State before enrolling at Phillips Exeter.
Dominick Campbell, shown going to the basket last winter during the Class C South basketball regionals, plays with Brady Cummins on the Middlesex Magic AAU club in Massachusetts. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal
For Cummins, the idea is to put some muscle on his lean frame while not losing any of his explosiveness. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals for York last year, mixing in several impressive dunks in transition and out of the Wildcats’ half-court offense.
“Mainly the idea of going to prep school was so I could reclassify, and have that extra time to get stronger and to have that extra year of AAU which is so important for exposure,” Cummins said. “I just know so many people that made this decision and they’ve said so many great things and it has helped them out and these people had similar goals as me.
“My main goal is to play Division I basketball and to have as many opportunities for different schools to see me play as possible, so when I make my decision I’ll know it’s the right fit,” he added.
Cummins said he’s received offers from the University of New Hampshire (where his dad, Bob, played from 1988-92) and Bryant University in Rhode Island.
Campbell and Cummins are members of the Middlesex Magic AAU club, based in the greater Boston area, but they came by their decisions separately. Campbell didn’t begin playing for Middlesex until after he’d decided to enroll at Phillips Exeter.
With the NCAA granting every college basketball player an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, most observers expect there to be a significant reduction in available roster spots for incoming players in the Class of 2021.
“Right there you have a graduating class where not everyone is leaving,” said Michael Crotty Jr., director of the Middlesex Magic.
Middlesex has helped over 400 players go on to play college basketball since it was formed in 1993 by Crotty’s late father. The club’s most famous alumni are current NBA players Duncan Robinson (Miami Heat/University of Michigan) and Patrick Connaughton (Portland Trail Blazers/Notre Dame) but Crotty noted that the majority of the club’s players move on to Division III programs known as much for their academics as athletics.
Crotty, who confirmed the scholarship offers already on the table for Campbell and Cummins, said he believes both will be Division I players – and he expects their choices to expand considerably, especially if they can get in a full summer of showcase opportunities in 2021.
Crotty said Cummins’ 6-6 frame and athletic ability allows him to guard almost any position, while offensively he can finish “way above the rim,” has a mid-range game and has developed into a proficient 3-point shooter.
“He’s one of the most versatile players I’ve coached at both ends of the floor,” Crotty said.
Campbell starts with his ability to use “muscle and strength to score at the rim,” who has the touch and floor vision to shoot from distance and set up others. “Dom can do the junkyard dog stuff inside but he can make a 3 and then put it on the floor and make a backdoor pass,” Crotty said. “He’s got a chance to be a really special recruit.”
Campbell said his focus is on improving his conditioning and foot speed enough to guard wing players – the big guards and small forwards.
“I’d say right now I’m a five or a four, but I’m working on skills to develop at two or three because at my height, if I can play the two, or three – and guard the two or three – that makes me a better recruit. And, the only way you can play a position is if you can guard a position,” Campbell said.
Now Campbell has an extra year to continue to refine his game with a New England prep school power (Phillips Exeter has won four of the past eight NEPSAC Class A titles), while also enhancing his academic skills.
“It’s been kind of a taste of what college would be like and it’s also very academically rigorous and I did well,” Campbell said of his first semester. “It’s been a good test and I’ve made some great friends and I improved a lot in terms of basketball. We had a pretty intensive training program and my knowledge of the game improved.”
Similarly, Cummins is convinced his decision to transfer will continue to pay dividends, though he admits that making the decision to leave “hometown friends and hometown crowd,” was difficult. Brooks School is another prep power, having gone 30-1 in ISL league play the past two seasons, with NEPSAC Class B titles in 2016-2018.
“I definitely feel it was the right decision, especially with the circumstances we’re in right now,” Cummins said. “If I had never attended a prep school I would be a senior at York with not as many options. But being at Brooks, as a junior, I will have my AAU season to play and then my senior season.”