February 6

Maine high school players find a common college home

Bentley basketball has thrived with its Maine recruits.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WALTHAM, Mass. — George Andrew Shaw of Saco, Maine, thinks about how unlikely it is that he and his fellow Mainers – Alex Furness of Wells, Tyler McFarland of Rockport and Keegan Hyland of South Portland – are all playing basketball together at Bentley University.

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Tyler McFarland: The leading scorer and rebounder for Bentley was a standout at Camden Hills, below, driving the Windjammers to two Class B state titles in three seasons.

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Additional Photos Below

“Going back to our freshman year in high school, and Keegan was a sophomore, if anybody had said we were all going to be on the same Division II team you would have said they were crazy,” said Shaw, a 6-foot-5 junior forward who played at Thornton Academy.

“Keegan was going high D-I and I might not have gone anywhere. I wasn’t even that highly touted yet, and Alex wasn’t either and Tyler was supposed to go (Division I).”

Their paths to Bentley, a top-tier program in the highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference, were varied but now each is a major contributor for the Falcons, who are 14-7 overall and 8-7 in the NE-10 entering Thursday night’s game at Assumption.

“It’s not necessarily that we all made it to this level, it’s that all four of us are on the same team. That’s the interesting part,” said Furness, a 6-5 guard.

“We like that we’re from Maine. I think Mainers are pretty proud in general,” Hyland said.

“A big part of it is, it’s just fun to play with guys you’ve been friends with,” said McFarland, a 6-5 forward, and the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. “I’ve known Alex and George since I was in eighth grade and I met Keegan a few summers ago.”

THE ROADS CONVERGED

Bentley Coach Jay Lawson is asked if 10 or 15 years ago his team could have been competitive with four key players hailing from Maine.

He’s quick to point to previous Mainers who have thrived at Bentley. Sam Leclerc of Winthrop led the Falcons in scoring his senior season of 2011-12. Jeff Holmes of Cheverus started every game for the 32-1 team in 2006-07.

“It’s not about Maine. It’s about where are guys good enough to play low-Division I, high Division II, and academically can get into a school like this,” Lawson said. “Now, I will say this. The ugliness of AAU hasn’t caught up to Maine: the repeating of grades, and reclassifying, and switching to private schools. These four kids are much more grounded. Their families have their acts together and all four of them are really good students.”

They also are getting it done on the court, averaging a combined 50.4 points.

Shaw came first and his route to Bentley was the most direct. After four years at Thornton Academy, Shaw was offered a scholarship. His father, Jeff, is a graduate of Bentley. There was no equivocating.

Shaw, McFarland and Furness played together on the Portland-based MB Nation AAU team as members of the class of 2011.

McFarland was the prize Lawson courted hardest. A rugged scorer from Rockport, McFarland led Camden Hills to state Class B championships in 2009 and 2011.

McFarland opted to do a postgraduate year at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., hoping a Division I offer would follow.

But he and Bentley continued to have a relationship and finally the well-respected business school won out.

Furness also did a postgrad year, teaming with McFarland at Cushing Academy after helping Cheverus win the 2010 Class A title as a junior and returning to his hometown Wells High for his senior season.

McFarland already had committed to Bentley when Lawson offered Furness a scholarship.

“It was nice that we had Tyler and Andrew already (when recruiting Furness), and certainly it helped having all three of them when Keegan decided to switch schools,” Lawson said.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Alex Furness: Developing as a point guard for Bentley after winning a Class A title with Cheverus before transferring to Wells, next photo, for his senior high school season.

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Andrew Shaw: The first of the four to commit to Bentley was a rugged forward for a successful Thornton Academy team, next photo, and is now keeping defenses honest with his shooting.

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Keegan Hyland: The career scoring leader at South Portland High, next photo, has found a home after a series of injuries. He’s a Division I talent who’s still working out the rust of inactivity.

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