PITTSFIELD — The post-graduate men’s basketball team at Maine Central Institute was once one of the top prep basketball programs in the nation. Dozens of players went from the Pittsfield school to Division I college basketball, and some even went on to successful professional careers in the NBA.

Next winter, it will be a memory.

On Tuesday evening, MCI’s Board of Trustees voted to discontinue the postgraduate basketball program, effective July 1.

“The post-graduate basketball program at MCI has a storied and celebrated history,” MCI athletic director Earl Anderson said. “This decision came after many years of discussion, analysis and consideration by both the school’s administration and the trustees. Emotionally it was a hard decision for many, including myself, but in the end the PG basketball program no longer fit into the vision for MCI’s future.”

The move caught coach Dave Campbell by surprise.

“I had no idea this was going to happen,” Campbell, who took over the Huskies in 2006, said. “They talked about it before I came. A lot of it is probably financial. I have to live with it. They did what they felt was best for the school.”

Erskine Academy graduate Josh Jones spent the 2005-06 school year at MCI. Now playing for the Albany (N.Y.) Legends of Independant Basketball Association, Jones was drafted in the sixth round of the NBA Developmental League draft last fall. He said he has tryout coming up with some European teams, and plans to work out for D-League teams again soon.

Playing at MCI for a season was instrumental to his development, Jones said.

“It’s an opportunity for people,” Jones said. “It gave me an extra year to learn the game and get my grades up.”

One hundred and thirty-five MCI post-graduate team players went on to play Division I college basketball, and 10 players, including Sam Cassell, Cutino Mobley, Brad Miller, Caron Butler, and DerMarr Johnson, went on to the NBA

In a press release, the school said to the remain a competitive program would require more resources and additional investment.

According to the school’s web page, room, board and tuition for the 2012-13 school year is $40,850. A number of the post-graduate basketball players received financial aid or scholarships.

“Finances was really a secondary role in this decision,” Jennifer Beane, MCI’s Director of Alumni and Communications, said. “The program no longer enhances the mission of the school.”

While the post-graduate basketball players contribute to the campus and Pittsfield community while they are at MCI, often they leave as soon as they are placed in a college, often in March.

“They’re not really attending MCI for the whole year,” Beane said.

MCI’s postgraduate basketball team saw its heyday under coach Max Good, from the late 1980s through the ’90s. In 10 years at MCI, Good went 275-30. Under Good, the Huskies had three undefeated teams, won five New England Prep School Athletic Conference titles and had a 79-game win streak. Eighty-seven of Good’s players went on to play Division I basketball, and nine of them have played in the NBA.

Good said he shocked to hear the news.

“Obviously, it’s very upsetting,” Good said. “(Alum) Andre Williams just called me. I went to the Clippers game the ohter night and talked to Caron Butler. He couldn’t believe it. It’s not like MCI is some fly by night school.”

In 1999, DerMarr Johnson, who went on to the University of Cincinnati before an NBA career, was named Parade Magazine’s national player of the year after averaging 26 points and 6.7 rebounds per game for MCI.

The Huskies won the NEPSAC’s Class AAA, the league’s highest division, title in 2011. MCI went 10-17 this past season, losing in the NEPSAC quarterfinals to St. Thomas More.

Campbell said he had a couple commitments from players for next season, including Jonesport-Beals star Garet Beal, who led the Royals to the Class D state championship this past season, and a 7-foot-2 player from Greece.

“I had several other kids that I had talked to,” Campbell said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 


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