South Portland’s JP Estrella dunks the ball in the final few minutes of the Class AA state championship game against Oxford Hills at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

South Portland High’s 6-foot-11 junior center JP Estrella, who led the Red Riots to their first state title in 30 years, will play his senior basketball season at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

“I want to play athletes every single day who are just as skilled or more skilled than me and I really want to walk in to college prepared for the next level,” Estrella said. “I don’t want to just be a good player at that next level. I want to dominate and I took that into consideration that Brewster would get me ready.”

Brewster’s prep program has won the national prep school championship seven times under 22-year head coach Jason Smith, most recently in 2020 when it shared the title. Smith said his program is designed to simulate the daily activities and responsibilities expected of players at a top college program. Under Smith, Brewster has sent more than 170 players to Division I college basketball programs and had 19 alumni play in the NBA, most notably Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell

“Typically everyone on that prep team will play in college and the majority will play at the Division I level,” Smith said. “I think any kid that aspires to play at the Division I level in college benefits from the structure of the day at a place like Brewster.”

Estrella, who announced his decision to transfer Monday on his Twitter account, has already received numerous Division I offers. His first came from Syracuse University over the summer. Providence College, Tennessee, Boston College, Iowa, Xavier, Marquette, Penn State, and most recently Maine have also made scholarship offers. Harvard, an Ivy League school that does not offer athletic scholarships, has also actively recruited Estrella.

“He’s extremely versatile, with a strong work ethic and a passion to get better every day and I think that’s what makes him so special,” Smith said.


The offer from UMaine was made by then-interim coach Jai Steadman. On Monday, former South Portland standout Chris Markwood was named Maine’s new coach. Markwood had been the primary recruiting contact with Estrella at Boston College.

As a junior, in his first full season of varsity competition, Estrella was named the SMAA Player of the Year and averaged 20.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.1 blocks in the regular season. In South Portland’s Class AA 58-44 championship win against Oxford Hills he scored 19 points with 15 rebounds and five blocks while his length created a nearly impenetrable defense in the paint.

Estrella said Monday he had visited Brewster and other private preparatory schools prior to his junior season in anticipation of a likely transfer.

“I took some time after season to think about it because I really love the South Portland  community,” Estrella said. “It’s a great community, great coaching, great teammates. It’s going to be a memory you won’t forget but I really felt the best move for me was to go to prep but I really did cherish every single moment at South Portland.”

Estrella said he informed South Portland Coach Kevin Millington and his teammates a few days before his announcement.

“I’m really happy for him,” Millington said. “He’s really committed to being as prepared as possible to play at the next level and this will give him the opportunity to play against the best players. Of course we would love to have him for another season but I’m thrilled for him and everything he has ahead of him.”

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