Posted On: 09/26/18 11:32 AM

As we loom closer to high school basketball season, I kicked off my ‘gym journey’ this morning, which will be a tour of stopping by gyms in the Baltimore and surrounding areas to take a look at what teams have to offer this season. My first stop brought me to Colora, Maryland, the home of the West Nottingham Academy Rams. I made my way through campus at 6:00am in my car only to find the gym being the only building with the lights on. I walk in and see the 13 or so players already sweating and getting after it during a pick up game.


Last year was Johnson’s first as head coach. As he approaches this season with an almost complete overhaul of the roster, he hopes to build off their 19-13 record.


Key Returners:

Jamie Bergens

Jamie Bergens | 2019
-Bergens is a junior point guard who hails from the Netherlands. The 6-foot-1 guard was a key contributor last season and looks to build off the traction he gained this spring/summer with Team BBC. The southpaw floor general has a good pull-up jumper especially in pick-and-roll situations. He’s aggressive when he attacks the rim and seeks contact to draw fouls. Bergens plays extremely hard on both ends, which is a reason why he picked up his first and only offer from Loyola (MD) this summer.


Denys Bachurin | 2019
-Bachurin is an extremely long 6-foot-8 wing/forward who will play a big role for the Rams. The Ukraine native had to adjust to the American style of play last year, but showed stints of being a tough match up with his ability to shoot from three at his size. Bachurin has high basketball IQ and understands spacing and movement off the ball. He is a good rebounder, but will have to put on some weight for the next level.

Justinas Leganovic | 2019

-Leganovic is a natural point guard, but at 6-foot-4, he’ll likely be featured as a combo guard throughout this season. Last season, he was a top scorer for the Rams because they needed him to fill that role, but now with more scorers on the roster, Leganovic will still put the ball in the basket, but can now showcase his playmaking and IQ.


Key Additions:

Cartier Bowman | 2019
-Bowman will bring immediate energy the second he steps on the floor. The 6-foot-5 New Jersey native is long, athletic and active defensively. He is most effective in the open floor when he can display his athleticism. A capable shooter both off the catch and off the dribble, Bowman is vocal on both ends, which will help immensely considering there are plenty of new faces, including himself, on the roster. Look for Bowman to be leaned on as a scorer and lock down perimeter defender.

Tomiwa Sulaiman | 2020
-Sulaiman is coming off a productive summer where he was ranked as the second best player in the Deng Top 50 Camp. The 6-foot-6 wing has a good, strong frame that allows him to embrace physicality on both ends. He is a good catch-and-shoot threat from three, but is still developing on off the dribble skills. He works hard defensively and makes limiting the other team to one shot a priority.


Mehdi Pissis | 2019
-Pissis is a 6-foot-4 guard from France who will likely act as a role player off the bench for the Rams. Pissis has good length and can shoot it off the catch when his feet are set. His offensive game is still a work in progress in terms of getting up to American speed. Pissis’ works hard on the defensive end and has athleticism to stay in front of smaller, quicker guards.


Jedy Cordilla | 2021
-Cordilla is a 6-foot-8 sophomore with tremendous length. He’ll be leaned on as being a rim protector as well as a consistent presence on the boards. Cordilla is still very raw, but shows ability to finish with soft touch around the basket and will hit the occasional three when left open.


Nick Ovchinnikoff | 2019
-Ovchinnikoff will likely be another player who gets minutes off the bench. The good thing about the 6-foot-4 guard is that he can play either on or off the ball. He has high basketball IQ and understands the flow of the offense. He makes good reads with the ball in his hands and can finish efficiently well around the rim with either hand. He is athletic enough to finish over the rim in the open floor and can knock down shots when given a little space. Ovchinnikoff acts as a leader on the floor, which will help find him more minutes throughout the season.

Coach’s take:

Johnson spruced up the schedule for the upcoming season with games against Mt. Zion, Scotland Campus Sports Prep and will be playing in a number of competitive showcases around the Baltimore area. Now having a year under his belt and bringing in many new faces to fit his scheme, Johnson will look to build off of their 19-13 record from last year. He plans on letting his team play with more freedom offensively and play off of reads.