A 9-7 regular season has earned Expressions Elite a trip to Peach Jam, the program’s fifth straight bid to after joining the circuit in 2013. Operating without a true ‘star’, Expressions accumulated a 4-4 record against Peach Jam competition, including big wins over the City Rocks, Brad Beal Elite and the NY Lightning. Expressions rotation features 10 players, including eight players averaging between 12.9 and 6.3 points per game. Head coach Todd Quarles always gets the most out of his players, and he was up to his usual work this spring, depending on two-year EYBL veteran Noah Fernandes to lead the way. They aren’t going to beat you with ‘flashy’ basketball, but are capable of pounding you into submission with their defensive intensity and deep bench.
Fernandes is arguably the most important player on Expressions, and he teams up with junior big man Tre Mitchell to form a nice 1-2 duo. In 16 games, Fernandes averaged 12.9 points, 4.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while knocking down a team-high 32 three-pointers. Fernandes has the ball in his hands a ton, and will be relied upon to consistently set up his teammates with open opportunities. Fernandes is being courted by the likes of Pittsburgh and Rhode Island, so it’s clear that he’s becoming a known commodity on the national landscape. The 6-foot-9 Mitchell is a versatile four-man who enjoyed a nice spring, putting up 16-game averages of 10.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and a team-high 1.2 blocks. Mitchell (247 Composite No. 84) is the highest ranked junior on the roster, and operates as the squad’s best rebounder. Mitchell is guilty of disappearing at times, but when he is fully-locked in, there aren’t many big men on the circuit that can match his size and skillset. He’s getting recruited by a flock of high-major schools, and will have a lot of eyes on him in mid-July.
Fernandes makes them go, and he has three running mates alongside him to work with. Freshman guard Terrence Clarke (ESPN No. 2) is the highest-ranked player on the roster, and the 2021 product has more than held his own against 17U competition. Standing at 6-foot-6 with unlimited athleticism, Clarke showed flashes of brilliance during the regular season, and it would be shocking if he didn’t improve on his regular season per-game averages of 7.1 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Clarke will be counted on to play big minutes for Quarles and company, and Expressions’ chances in pool play will drastically improve if he increases his productivity. Clarke is the best perimeter shooter on the roster percentage-wise (35.7). Junior guard Waldo Soares has been effective in a bench role for Expressions, putting up averages of 6.3 points and 2.1 rebounds. At 6-foot-5, Soares has ideal size for the shooting guard position, and gives Expressions another solid defender on the perimeter. Fellow 6-foot-5 junior Alonzo Linton rounds out the rotation, and adds a strong rebounder in the backcourt.
Mitchell sees the ball quite a bit, whether it be through Expressions’ offense or on the boards. Juniors Preston Santos and Joe Pridgen are valued members of their rotation, each playing ‘starters’ minutes during the regular season. The 6-foot-6 Santos shoots it at a 50% clip, slashing his way to regular-season per-game averages of 7.6 points and 3.9 rebounds. Pridgen, a 6-foot-5 swingman and a veteran of last year’s Peach Jam squad, is criminally-underrated. The Governor’s Academy (MA) product put together a strong regular season, scoring in double-figures five times en route to averages of 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Pridgen, a 6-foot-5 wing with an active motor and plus athleticism, is coming off a terrific showing at NERR’s Elite 75 camp. 6-foot-9 Dyondre Dominguez, the only sophomore on Expressions’ roster, came on strong at the end of the regular season. The New Hampton (MA) product averaged 6.7 points and 3.7 rebounds for the season, but put up averages of 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds over the final six games. Dominguez parlayed his late-season success into a strong showing at FIBA U18 for Puerto Rico, and should be a much-improved threat for Expressions heading into July. 6-foot-10 junior Bas Leyte rounds out the rotation, playing limited minutes in a defensive-focused role. Leyte, a native of the Netherlands, is just starting to tap into his potential and should provide value off the bench.
Expressions has flown under-the-radar for the majority of the season, but they won’t be sneaking up on anyone at Peach Jam. The only game Expressions didn’t remain competitive was their season finale against undefeated Team Takeover, so there’s every reason to believe that they will remain ultra-competitive in Pool D. They’ve played two of their pool play opponents, splitting the pair with a win over the City Rocks and a late-season loss to the Renaissance. Basically, Boston’s Peach Jam representative will need their defense to be on point. They gave up an average of 66 points per game in 16 regular season games, but saw that number rise to 72 points allowed in the final seven games. Their defense will keep them competitive, and if they execute their offense like they did in double-digits wins over the City Rocks, Lightning and PSA, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing them in bracket play on Saturday night.