Pooley’s Picks: New Jersey Tip-Off

Pooley’s Picks

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off Preview

Qualifications:  Sticking with the theme of high school events we have NEW JERSEY BASKETBALL BACK!  Nothing like the start of basketball season in NJ and nothing like the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  This week we’ll have a little different approach to Pooley’s Picks.  No specific qualifications this week, just some pointers for people to watch out for during this event and really the rest of the season.

Picks are in no particular order. Please enjoy the fifth installment of Pooley’s Picks.

2016 New Jersey Tip Off

The 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off: Ten great match ups. 5 of the top 7 teams in NJ.

The Event: For years (17 to be exact), the Hoop Group has put on the NJ Tip-Off.  Each year, it features high-profile match ups and top-tier talent. The event itself is well run and the venues are always excellent.  The 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off will be very much the same.  First, Eric Kessler and Dave Fedor have a ton of experience running events, and more importantly a ton of knowledge of the teams.  When you get the best teams together to start the season it is important to have a great setup and planning.  This event will have that and more.


HC of Pope John at 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off, Vincent Johnson, while at Lehigh.

Vincent Johnson: Vincent was named the head coach of Pope John after former coach Jason Hasson left for Pennsylvania.  “Chico” as many know him, is a great coach with an unbelievable background in basketball.  More importantly, he is a good friend of mine and an excellent mentor to many young ball players.  The #1 thing I’m excited for at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off is to watch Coach Johnson in his head coaching debut.  Now, he has been matched up with Roselle Catholic, a staple at the top of the NJ rankings.  Don’t be surprised if Coach Johnson and his young, talented squad can keep it close.

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off participant Mike Morreale

2016 New Jersey Tip-Off participant Mike Morreale

Michael Morreale:  The 6’5″ 2017 senior is one of my favorites.  He is an excellent player, known both for his excellent athleticism and long range jumpers.  Entering his senior year, he’ll be a valuable asset for Coach Mergin Sina and the Knights.  Look for Mike to knock down a couple threes and convert on a jam or two.  More than that, look for Mike to make the big play at the end.  Defensively Mike is one of the best around, guarding point guards right on down to centers.  More importantly, he is a great kid and a great teammate.  No question that at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off everyone will enjoy watching Mike.



Blair v Linden: Earlier in the year, in the first installment of Pooley’s Picks I predicted the most productive players in New Jersey.  This match up features (admittedly) my biggest snub: Tavon Jones.  I can’t wait to watch Tavon in his first opportunity to prove me wrong.  The big guard can do it all and will have a huge test against one of my favorite backcourts on the east coast.  Let’s not forget the match up also features two great coaches: Phil Colicchio and Joe Mantegna.


Bergen Catholic v St. Benedict’s:  Mark Taylor’s team is led by impressive Syracuse commit Bourama Sidibe and fab frosh Noah Farrakhan.  Billy Armstrong’s team is led by two senior guards Gabe Stefanini (Columbia) and Taj Benning (Fairfield).  Something has to give here.  This is the most evenly matched game of the weekend, and one I really am excited to see.  Look for the X-factor, 6’8″ freshman Matt Zona, to jump onto the New Jersey seen.


Ja’Quaye James:  The small, heady PG will have his work cut out for him against Newark East Side.  First, the Red Raiders are one of the best defenses at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  Second, they are led by senior stopper Elijah Olaniyi and sophomore stud Anas Amos.  However, none of that matters to James, who has been taking on the country’s best for years.   Watch for some highlight reel excitement, some up-tempo basketball, and a lot of buckets from James.


Hun vs Union Catholic:  Just a solid match up.  Union Catholic is tough and physical, Hun is tough and physical.  Guard play from both schools will be the difference in the game.  Hun will try to keep Jordan Pierce of the offensive boards and Union Catholic will need to keep Tyler Washington and Desmond Cambridge away from the rim. Freshman guard Niels Lane, who got a lot of minutes at PSA Cardinals Showcase just two weeks ago, is another X-factor.


Calistus Anyichie 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off commit

Calistus Anyichie 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off commit

St. Mary’s Elizabeth Bigs: Certainly not a group the casual fan would talk about, but I think that’s about to change.  Both bigs, Calistus Anyichie and Casmir Ochiaka, have big upside and great coaching.  Perhaps a little underrated right now, I’m looking for them to have a breakout 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  As the season continues, look for colleges to start taking notice as well.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim: First of all, it’s not often you get to see a freshman play major minutes in a High School game.  Second of all, it’s less often you get to see a top player nationally impact a game.  Finally, both of those two will come together for the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off, as Abdur-Rahim will do his best to live up to the hype.


Samba Diallo:  Will BLOW UP this season.  Been hearing his name a lot lately in some basketball circles.  Samba has started coming into his own. First, look for this kid to have his first big game of the year at the 2016 New Jersey Tip-Off.  Then, look for him to finish his sophomore year with all of the offers.  The big lefty can do it all, and legitimately play 4 different positions.


Special Guest this week, Event Director Eric Kessler:

Adam Mitola Steps into Senior Role at Gill St. Bernard’s

14339618-standardThe Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase takes place this weekend with plenty of high profile New Jersey teams taking part in it. Gill St. Bernard’s is making another appearance in the prestigious event. Senior guard Adam Mitola has been a key piece for Mergin Sina’s squad for quite some time now. He will be their senior leader this season and he is setting the bar high for his team.

“My goal for the season is to win the county finals and to win the state championship,” Mitola said.

Mitola has been participating in elite events to prepare for this year.

“I have prepared by playing in the fall league in Paterson and my team has played in some fall Hoop Group tournaments to get better,” he told HoopGroup.com.

He believes playing team basketball and having the right mindset this season are the keys to success.

“The key for a successful season is to share the ball,” he said. “We we are a young team so we have to believe we can play with anyone,” he said.

Gill St. Bernard’s is ready to take on Teaneck this Saturday especially with all that comes with the Tip-Off Showcase.

“Yes, my teammates and I are excited about the Tip-Off Showcase because it is a great opportunity to play in and there is great competition,” said the senior guard.

Hoop Group NJ Tip Off Showcase Preview

Deceber 17th- The 15th Annual Hoop Group Tip ­Off-Classic will host a total of nine games Saturday, December 20 and Sunday, December 21, 2014,. Four games will be held Saturday and five games Sunday at the spacious new West Orange High School gymnasium.

The first game will tip-off at 1:30 on Saturday and at 12:00 on Sunday.

The Hoop Group Tip ­Off Classic provides for some of the most exciting match-­ups of the High School Basketball Season. The schedule includes virtually all of the best high school programs in New Jersey including nationally ranked Roselle Catholic.

The Game Schedule

Saturday ­ December 20, 2014 – West Orange High School, West Orange NJ
1:30 East Orange vs. Paterson Eastside
3:10 Don Bosco Prep vs. CBA
4:50 Teaneck vs. Gill St. Bernards
6:30 Columbia vs. Seton Hall Prep

Sunday ­ December 21, 2014 –West Orange High School, West Orange NJ
12:00 West Orange vs. Union Catholic
1:40 St. Patrick’s vs. Bergen Catholic
3:20 Newark East Side vs. St. Anthony
5:00 Roselle Catholic vs. Blair
6:40 Linden vs. Hun

Nationally ranked: Roselle Catholic #5 USA Today, #9 MaxPreps
The top 5 teams in New Jersey ranked by NJ Hoops: #1 Roselle Catholic, #2 St. Anthony’s, #3 St. Patrick’s, #4 Gill St. Bernards, #5 Linden
6 of the Top 10 teams in New Jersey ranked by NJ Hoops: #1 Roselle Catholic, #2 St. Anthony’s, #3 St. Patrick’s, #4 Gill St. Bernards, #5 Linden, #9 Seton Hall Prep
10 of the Top 15 teams in New Jersey ranked by NJ Hoops: #1 Roselle Catholic, #2 St. Anthony’s, #3 St. Patrick’s, #4 Gill St. Bernards, #5 Linden, #9 Seton Hall Prep, #11 Don Bosco, #12 Paterson Eastside, #13 CBA, #15 Newark East Side
15 of the Top 50 teams in New Jersey ranked by NJ Hoops:


SENIORS: Isaiah Briscoe – Roselle Catholic #9 Rivals.com, #13 ESPN, Chris Silva – Roselle Catholic #96 ESPN, #133 Rivals.com, Markis McDuffie – St. Anthony #92 ESPN

JUNIORS: Tyus Battle – Gill St. Bernards – #14 ESPN, #15 Rivals.com, Temple Gibbs – Seton Hall Prep #37 ESPN, #69 Rivals.com, Jagan Mosely – St. Anthony #101 Rivals.com, Bryce Aiken – St. Patrick’s #127 Rivals.com

COMMITTED PLAYERS: Isaiah Briscoe – Roselle Catholic – Kentucky, Chris Silva – Roselle Catholic – South Carolina, Markis McDuffie – St. Anthony’s – Wichita State, Elijah Burns – Blair – Notre Dame, Tim Delaney – Blair – Villanova, Pierfrancesco Oliva – Bergen Catholic – St. Joseph’s, Pierre Sarr – Roselle Catholic – Monmouth, Lonnie Rivera – Don Bosco – American, Isaiah Still – Union Catholic – Robert Morris, Donovan Wright – Blair – Cornell, Mohamed Bendary – St. Anthony’s – NJIT, Jack Laffey – CBA – Adelphi


SENIORS: Isaiah Briscoe – Roselle Catholic #1, Markis McDuffie – St. Anthony #5, Chris Silva – Roselle Catholic #6, Eli Burns – Blair #7, Tim Delaney – Blair #9, Isaiah Still – Union Catholic #10, Pierfrancesco Oliva – Bergen Catholic #12, Pierre Sarr – Roselle Catholic #16, Kelly Hogan – Seton Hall Prep #19, Donovan Wright – Blair #25, Ganlandou Cisse – Roselle Catholic #27, Mike Runcie – Columbia #30, Asem Johnson – Paterson Eastside #32, Otis Livingston – Linden #36, Jonas Stakeliunas – Gill St. Bernards #46, Ahmad Harrison – Newark East Side #48, Marquel Sheffield – Paterson Eastside #49, Josh Carter – Linden #50, Taj Price – Newark East Side #54, Juwan Dolbrice – Linden #55, Jack Laffey – CBA #60.

JUNIORS: Tyus Battle – Gill St. Bernards #1, Temple Gibbs – Seton Hall Prep #2, Jagan Mosely – St. Anthony #3, Asante Gist – Roselle Catholic #4, Bryce Aiken – St. Patrick’s #5, Matt Bullock – Roselle Catholic #6, Taurean Thompson – St. Anthony #9, Pat Andree – CBA #11, Cyril Langevine – Patrick School #12, Fatir Hines – St. Patrick’s #20, Idris Joyner – St. Anthony #21, Javarius Hayes – St. Anthony #26, Brandon Anderson – Don Bosco #31, Julius Stoma – Gill St. Bernards #33, R’keem Dixon – Linden #34, Shyquan Gibbs – St. Anthony #37, Steve Ferraro – Seton Hall Prep #40, Adam Mitola – Gill St. Bernards #54, Jack McGuire – CBA #58

SOPHOMORES: Jamil Harris – St. Patrick’s #3, Leondre Washington – Teaneck #4, Robert Cole – St. Anthony #5, Bul Ajar-Ajang – St. Patrick’s #7, Marcus McClary – St. Patrick’s #8, Matt Turner – Blair #11, Darnell Brodie – Newark East Side #13, Tyrese Jenkins – St. Anthony #25, Elijah Olaniyi – Newark East Side #26, Taj Benning – Bergen Catholic #30, Amadu Benbow – Newark East Side #31, Brandon Hampton – St. Patrick’s #32, Jaiyer Jinwright – Newark East Side #36

FRESHMAN: Nazreon Reid – Roselle Catholic #1, Koko Buay – St. Patrick’s #3, Jaquaye James – Teaneck #5, Justin Winston – West Orange #8, Louis King – #7 Roselle Catholic, Aaron Clarke – Roselle Catholic #8, Tavon Jones – Linden #9, Marquise Nowell – St. Anthony #11, Chauncey Sterling – St. Anthony #14, Dallas Hoffman – Gill St. Bernards #16, Mike Watkins – Union Catholic #19, Rodrique Massenat – Patrick School #20

For More Information: HoopGroup.com
Kim Waiters 732-­502­-2255

For Media Credential
Contact James Albano

Tickets also available at the door.
Student Tickets are only $8
Adult Tickets $12

DEC 20 – 3:10 – Don Bosco vs. CBA
DEC 20 – 4:50 – Gill St. Bernards vs. Teaneck
DEC 25 2:00 – West Orange vs Union Catholic
DEC 26 7:30 – Patrick School vs. Bergen Catholic
DEC 25 7:30 – Newark Eastside vs. St Anthony
DEC 27 1:30 – Roselle Catholic vs. Blair Academy
DEC 28 1:30 – Linden vs. The Hun School
Special thanks to our broadcast partners


Breaking Down the Weekend that was Elite Team Camp

After session one of Elite Camp ended, there was no time for rest. The very next day, 66 high school teams were coming in to participate in the Hoop Group Elite Team Camp. Teams traveled to Reading, Pennsylvania from up and down the east coast to play in the two day camp, which ended today around 5:00 pm.

Over the past two days we saw a lot of different teams with a lot of different agendas coming in. We saw a lot of good players, teams and coaches as well. Here are some things we took away from the weekend that was, Elite Team Camp.

Newark East Side has a bright future
Newark East Side came into this weekend a little short hand in experience. A team that usually has talented guards such as Ahmad Harrison and Jibreel Ahmad was short-handed this weekend coming to Albright. Half their roster included players going into freshman and sophomore year. Needless to say the squad struggled this weekend, (it also didn’t help seeing DeMatha in round 1) but they gained a ton of experience as a result. As long as their young players continue to stay together and play the level of competition they played this weekend, Newark East Side will be back in the TOC very soon.

Maret appears to have a go to big man
Maret had a solid weekend overall. They won their first two games before being knocked out of the winners bracket by legendary St. Anthony; that loss was their only one of the weekend. A bright spot for the Washington D.C. high school was 6’8 center Luka Garza. He opened by scoring 15 points in Maret’s first win and continued to play well from that point forward. Having a consistent scorer in the post takes pressure off of Maret’s guards and allows them to look inside with confidence, knowing there’s a good chance it’ll result in a basket.

The Huerter brothers would benefit from reclassifying
Kevin and Thomas Huerter are both very good players and had good weekends and their Shenendehowa team prospered as a result, advancing the the Final Four of the American Division. When we covered the Huerter brothers on Day 1 we mentioned that they planned on reclassifying after graduation. A year at prep school will turn their solid offers into good offers. Thomas is looking at Patriot league and Division III looks while Kevin has received an offer from Sienna. Another year to work on their game and these two could have a lot more offers than that.

Roman Catholic has weapons
Roman struggled a little on Sunday, but definitely impressed the day before on their road to the Final Four. When watching them play you instantly thought of the question ‘How can you guard everyone?’ If you focus on Nazeer Bostwick, Trevaughn Wilkerson has the ability to still hurt you. Then there’s D’Andre Vilmer who showed how explosive and bouncy he is and terrorized the boards. Often times this weekend they just appeared to have too much artillery. Should be a good year for them.

St. Anthony’s is still loaded as well
Despite a championship loss, St. Anthony’s showed they are as good as any team in years past. They put on a defensive clinic all weekend long and left their opposition amazed at how tenacious they are. Without Rivals Top 150 recruit Markis McDuffie, the team was led mainly by junior Jagan Mosely, who showed how bright his future can be. The Friars are also blessed with some size inside with Taurean Thompson and Mohammed Bendary, whose heart and hustle make him even bigger than he is. I know that saying St. Anthony’s is good is an obvious statement, but when you put on a showing that you did without a top player, you deserve some credit. This will be a tough squad to beat come February.

Conestoga is a very well rounded team
The Conestoga Pioneers were crowned 2014 American Division champions this afternoon, defeating Stone Bridge by a score of 64-55. A team that found themselves trailing a number of times this weekend, Conestoga was able to stay the course by buckling down on defense, finding a hot hand on offense and grinding out win after win. The team followed a pattern this weekend in terms of offense: feed the hot hand, and everyone else play a balanced role in support. Each game they had a different high scorer, one game it was Daniel Vila, another was Martin Dorsey and on Sunday it was Andrew Diehl, scoring 16 and 27 in the semis and final respectively. Each scorer was also accompanied by a support group of guys scoring six to ten points a game. With a team effort like that, it’s no coincidence they found themselves champs today.

Tyus Battle is great….and so is Gill St. Bernard
Tyus Battle was the biggest name at camp this weekend. A top player in the class of 2016, Battle drew the likes of Jay Wright, John Beilein, Fran Dunphy and Ohio State assistant coach, Greg Paulus. While many people may have watched Gill St. Bernard play because of Battle, he was not the only one on the team who can play. Maybe none of them can play Big East or Big Ten basketball, but there is definitely a place in college for most, if not all of them. Battle was a huge reason why Gill made the final, scoring 22 points in a tough semi final game versus Roman Catholic. However, in the final against St. Anthony, Battle played as a facilitator, kicking to his open teammates when St. Anthony defenders closed in on him. His teammates rewarded the unselfishness by knocking down shot after shot. Adam Mitola ended up being the lead scorer with 22. Battle only had 9, but was just a happy seeing his teammates knock down threes and pick up a win. One thing was made clear last night, Gill St. Bernard is a great overall team.

Gill St. Bernard High School wins the 2014 Elite Team Camp National Division

Gill St. Bernard High School wins the 2014 Elite Team Camp National Division

Team Camp was awesome
On paper alone the schedule looked promising, but many times a tournament does not always liv up to expectations. This was not the case this weekend. We saw plenty of games go down to the wire. We saw top teams get pushed to their limits by underdogs. Most importantly, we saw a lot, I repeat A LOT of teams get better. Summer is always a crucial time to develop your individual game, but these teams were able to develop their team game and raise chemistry in an exciting and competitive environment. It was a really great weekend of camp. Can’t wait to get session II of Academic Elite started.

We’re ready for tournaments
The tournament style bracket that team camp was set up in got us ready for more. Luckily we don’t have to wait that long till we get some! Wednesday stars Summer Classic East in King of Prussia and this weekend is Summer Jam Fest at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim! Brackets are out on our website and the field is loaded, be sure to follow along!