Pooley Picks – Top New Jersey Basketball Players by Productivity

Pooley Picks

Top New Jersey Basketball Players: 10 Most Productive

Qualifications: There are a lot of ways to discuss Top New Jersey Basketball players, here we are talking strictly production.  The players below aren’t necessarily the Top 10 players in New Jersey, but rather players I’ve projected to put up the biggest numbers adjusted for competition. You cannot be on the list if you’re projected to average less than 10 points per game or if your only strength is scoring the ball (players who are projected for low assist AND rebound totals don’t qualify).  Lastly, we have adjusted for competition: Big numbers against a weaker schedule won’t get you in over someone with comparable numbers are against top teams.

Players are in no particular order. Please enjoy the first installment of Pooley Picks.

Nate Pierre-Louis: Nate’s an extremely physical guard who has the keys to the kingdom at one of New Jersey’s top schools.  Look for Nate to have big scoring nights on top of his ability to creep up near double digit assists and rebounds on some outings.  In addition to the situation being right at Roselle, Nate can also flat out play.  This guard can score from all three levels, distribute, and get big buckets in big games. It will be fun to watch the Temple commit this season as he proves he’s one of the top New Jersey basketball players.

Most productive when: He out hustles all competition and gets teammates involved consistently

Least productive when: Teams pack the lane and jumper doesn’t fall

Stat Line Projection: 21.1 ppg / 4.7 apg / 6.1 rpg / 3.4 spg / 0.8 bpg


Justyn Mutts: Big man for St. Augustine’s has the potential for some monster nights in 2016-17.  Proving himself with one of the best teams in NJ last year, Mutts had a 22-10-7 game against undefeated St. Anthony’s; along with multiple double-doubles and plenty of 5+ block games. High Point is getting a stat-stuffer with Mutts.

Most productive when: He plays inside then out and stays aggressive on the O-boards

Least productive when: Teams can force him to 15 feet plus and box out.

Stat Line Projection: 17.9 ppg / 1.7 apg / 10.1 rpg / 1.4 spg / 3.1 bpg


Scottie Lewis: Scottie has the chance to have the best stat sheet in New Jersey both in an individual game and over the course of the season.  A human highlight reel, he can also do everything and will be in a situation at The Ranney School where he has to for them to be successful.  He’ll get plenty of shots and even more rebounding and assist opportunities.  Even with adjusting for competition, Scottie will have such good numbers he is a no-brainer for this list. Looking ahead, watch for him to start creeping into one of the top New Jersey basketball players ever.

Most productive when: When he’s in the open floor and help-side defensive situations

Least productive when: Teams slow the game and play triangle and two against him and teammate Bryan Antoine

Stat Line Projection: 19.4 ppg / 5.1 apg / 11.1 rpg / 4.7 spg / 2.8 bpg


RJ Cole: Tough for anyone on a Coach Hurley team to make the list, as his teams often feature extremely well disciplined and balanced teams.  However, this seems like a year where one player may be required to do a little more for them to be as successful as they’ve been in the past.  Lucky for the Friars, Cole, a top New Jersey basketball player, is set up for one of those years.  RJ is a heady point, whose jump shot has turned a corner.  The lefty, committed to Howard, should have some big games against some of the best teams the Northeast has to offer.  May not boast the stats of some of the other players on the list but will score or assist on a huge % of his teams buckets.

Most productive when:  He’s given space on the perimeter or in ball screen situations

Least productive when: His team needs to grind out wins in the 40s and 50s

Stat Line Projection: 15.4 ppg / 5.7 apg / 3.4 rpg / 2.9 spg / 0.4 bpg


Elijah Barnes: Looking to repeat as Shore Conference Champs, Mater Dei’s 6’7” big man can do a little bit of everything.  Most importantly, Barnes can do a lot of rebounding and scoring.  Elijah put up decent numbers on an extremely well-rounded, well-coached team last year.  Barnes is poised for a huge individual season (along with teammate Kenny Jones) in 2016-17. Princeton looks to be getting a tough big man who can do a little bit of everything.

Most productive when:  He’s attacking the glass, inside of 15 feet and then steps out

Least productive when: He falls in love with perimeter game or floats on the floor

Stat Line Projection: 18.7 ppg / 2.7 apg / 11.4 rpg / 1.6 spg / 2.4 bpg


Jalen Carey:  With Immaculate Conception getting better and deeper there may be a few less opportunities to score, but Jalen’s overall game should flourish.  Arguably the best scorer in New Jersey (I wouldn’t argue against it), Carey is an explosive athlete, with some of the best downhill moves in high school basketball as well as a consistent mid-range shooter with a developing 3-pt jumper.  Expect some games in the 30’s and a lot of wins for his high school team this year, led by the only junior on the list.

Most productive when:  He has the ball in his hand. Period.

Least productive when:  He’s forced off the ball and required to only shoot long jump shots.

Stat Line Projection: 22.6 ppg / 3.9 apg / 7.1 rpg / 3.6 spg / 0.9 bpg


Bryan Antoine: Bryan is a scoring PG who just happens to be 6’4” with an unbelievable feel for the game.  Considering he’s going to touch the ball every possession this season I know big games are on the way.  Huge scoring and assist numbers are a certainty from Bryan, in a league where guys will not be able to stay in front of him.  Along with teammate Scottie Lewis, and an older and stronger supporting cast, look for these big numbers to translate into wins against tougher teams deep into 2017.

Most productive when:  He can get going from deep and consistently get to the line.

Least productive when:  Teams can force contested jump shots and guard w/o fouling.

Stat Line Projection: 24.6 ppg / 6.1 apg / 6.4 rpg / 3.8 spg / 1.1 bpg


Gabe Stefanini:  The Italian import had a breakout 2016, both in HS and AAU.  The 6’3” Columbia commit, can play three positions and is hard to stop at all of them.  Not the fastest guard, Gabe’s game is built on deception, a high basketball IQ, and an ever improving jump shot.  His numbers may not be as gaudy as some of the others on this list, but with an extremely deep Bergen Catholic roster and tough schedule, look for Gabe to be balanced in all 5 major categories and lead the crusaders to a lot of wins.

Most productive when:  He plays under control, with his head up, and gets to the foul line.

Least productive when:  He forces early in games and gets into his own head.

Stat Line Projection: 14.1 ppg / 5.1 apg / 6.3 rpg / 2.7 spg / 0.6 bpg


Nick Richards: From a production standpoint, I was close to leaving Nick off the list.  For years, Nick has been a top recruit in the nation, and currently holds the number one spot in New Jersey; however, the statistics and impact on the game up until now hasn’t always been there.  That is about to change though.  With this being his senior year, his team playing perhaps the toughest schedule of any team in New Jersey, a recent commitment to Kentucky, and Pat’s losing inside factors Fatir Hines and Cyril Langevine: Nick will be up for more minutes, blocks, rebounds, and points. Not to mention the fact his game has made great strides the last few months.

Most productive when:  He stays out of foul trouble and runs the floor rim to rim.

Least productive when:  He gets caught in that middle 8-15 ft. range

Stat Line Projection: 12.6 ppg / 0.9 apg / 12.1 rpg / 1.6 spg / 4.1 bpg


Elijah Olaniyi is one of the top New Jersey Basketball Players

Elijah Olaniyi is one of the top New Jersey Basketball Players

Elijah Olaniyi: Definitely a surprise to some on the production list, but Elijah has begun to separate himself from other NJ wings.  The Stonybrook commit has taken a below average jumper and turned it into a strength.  The energizer bunny, he not only plays hard every second, but he has a nose for the ball.  Never afraid to attack the rim or take tough shots, Elijah will jump about 50% in scoring and slightly improve on an unreal rebounding campaign in 2015-16, which include five consecutive double-doubles. If you watch him play he’ll convince you he’s a top New Jersey basketball player.

Most productive when:  He takes and makes good shots and gets to the foul line

Least productive when:  Opposing Teams can keep him off the glass and out of transition

Stat Line Projection: 15.1 ppg / 2.3 apg / 10.9 rpg / 2.1 spg / 1.1 bpg


Top 5 Snubs:

Tavon Jones – Unbelievable competitor and scorer.  Will lead Linden to another long playoff run.

Reason: I’m only allowed to have 10 players on the list.

Bourama Sidibe – Big time prospect who will rebound and block shots with the best of them.

Reason: Very difficult schedule will limit scoring opportunities; aggressive play will lead to foul trouble.

Deng Gak – Top level prospect, who developed a ton last year with Blair and PSA.

Reason: Don’t see him cracking 10 pts or reb with a great five at Blair who can all score and rebound.

Ja’Quaye James – One of the best scorers in the state in 2015-2016 and a good enough distributor.

Reason: Teams will start to key on little guard, assist and scoring numbers could dip.

Justin Minaya – Originally on the list, great all around guard with a bright future.  Major sleeper!

Reason: He’ll have better numbers than a couple on the list, but adjusting for competition hurts.


Other Notes:

Difficult to leave Jordan Pierce off a list of top New Jersey basketball players.  However, when it comes to productivity I don’t know if he’ll have the other stats.  Jordan plays hard and records a lot of double-doubles.  The big three at Hudson (Quinerly, Muhammad, King) are all unbelievable talents.  However, for Marinello’s team to win they will share many of the stats needed to be on this list.  Isaiah Wong will be a front runner for this list next year, Notre Dame guard is great.

Patrick School guards (Harris, McClary, Walker) will be in a Hudson Catholic like scenario: talented backcourt, with only one ball. Big nights but not enough counting numbers for Rice’s big three.  George Visconti, crazy scorer who had 5 30 point games last year, just doesn’t quite have the strength of schedule but could average 25+ again this year. Finally, Nazreon Reid, a top 10 player to watch for certain but I don’t expect consistent enough numbers to justify jumping one of the other candidates.

#PittJamFest Championship Recap

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The Pittsburgh Jam Fest has become one of the biggest events of the Spring live period. Playing host to over 350 teams, the Pitt Jam Fest sees teams from all across the country come and compete in front of hundreds of college coaches for a chance to win a championship. Eight teams left Pittsburgh with a great achievement to add to their program’s resume. Let’s break down the winners in each division.

Open Bracket:

Anyone who saw Northeast Basketball Club at the Spring Jam Fest, knew they were a talented club. After losing on a buzzer beater to the powerhouse Canaries Basketball Academy, Northeast came into Pitt with a more focused mindset. After two wins, they had an Elite Eight match up against the NY Panthers, a final four team in the Spring Jam Fest. In what was a great game, Northeast held off the Panthers and won an exciting game by 3. They would carry that momentum over and take a commanding win over Athlete’s Plus.

The best part about Northeast’s performance this weekend was the fact that they had different leading scorers in most of their games. In the Final Four, Marlon Taylor led the way with 23 and in the final it was Shakur Juiston, who had 27. Asem Johnson was also a double digit scorer in every game this weekend, providing key baskets whenever his team needed them.

Open NorthEast Basketball Club

17u Platinum Bracket:

The West Virginia Wildcats flexed their muscles in the most dense bracket of the 2015 Pittsburgh Jam Fest. The Wildcats showed their dominance, winning every game by double digits. They ended up having one of the most diverse schedules, playing, and beating, teams from New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Minnesota on their way to a championship.

West Virginia’s roster is filled with Division I prospects, including WVU commits Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler.  In the championship game, the Cats jumped out to an early lead on Team Loaded 757 and never relinquished it. Thanks to the big play inside of Maceij Bender and the court leadership of Knapper, West Virginia had no problem holding off Team Loaded for a Pitt Jam Fest championship.


17u Steel:

At the same time the West Virginia (Gold) team was winning their championship, West Virginia (Blue) was having equal success in the 17U Steel bracket. After knocking off a string of teams from the Maryland and New York area, this West Virginia team saw themselves in a final versus Indiana Faith.

Thanks to the play inside by Thomas Cole and the outside shooting from Luke Dyer, West Virginia made winning look easy this past weekend. Congratulations to the West Virginia Wildcats Blue team on winning the 17u Steel Division!

17u Steel West Virginia Wildcats

17u Gold:

The 17u Gold bracket saw four teams go 2-0 in pool play on Saturday, setting up some semifinal match ups that were worth talking about.

After going 2-0 on Saturday, the Rockland Rockets went into Sunday with the expectation of winning a championship. If they wanted to win it all though, they would have to get past a Common Bond (MI) team that was riding a lot of momentum after two big blow out wins Saturday.  Rockland was going to need to play a great game to beat the Michigan team, and they did, hanging on and winning a close one 66-59. They would then go on to top JSL Hoops and win the 17u championship. Rockland was led by Kevin Jefferson, who had two 30 point scoring efforts on Saturday, making shot after shot after shot from the outside. Congratulations to the Rockland Rockets!

17u Gold Rockland Rockets

16u Platinum:

The Jersey Shore Warriors won their second Jam Fest Championships in as many attempts this Spring. Coming in as a top seed after winning the Spring Jam Fest, the Warriors faced a tough test on their road to a second championship of the Spring. They had to beat several well established programs including the NJ Roadrunners and Team Loaded 757 just to get to the Final Four. There they met a hot Minnesota Fury team, and ended their four game win streak, setting up a final game versus Team Melo.

The championship match was everything  we expected it to be: a gritty back and forth battle with neither team backing down. Team Melo had great length and size. They were being led by the great play of Andre Rafus and Chris Orlina, two big, long wings who shoot the basketball well. The championship game that came down to the final minutes, the Warriors got timely hoops from Sam Iorio and Taylor Funk to give them a lead. Talek Williams was very solid all weekend at the guard spot for the Warriors, who one again showed balanced team play every game. Funk was the game MVP with 13 points in the final.

16u Platinum Jersey Shore Warriors

16u Steel:

The 16u Steel Division final consisted of two teams who came out of the center of their brackets to advance to a championship game. Upstate Basketball Club and PG Bulls each put together a four game win streak to get themselves in position for a championship. When the two met Sunday afternoon though, it was the PG Bulls squad from Maryland that would get the best of Upstate and be crowned champions, but it did not come easy. This championship game would be one of the best of the weekend!

After leading by eight at the break, Upstate came back and would actually take a 53-52 lead late in the second half. However, 40 minutes would not be enough and this game would see some overtime. The extra period was all PG Bulls. with under 10 seconds remaining, Upstate tied the game with a three and we looked like double OT was a real possibility; the Bulls had other ideas. They took the inbound, took the ball the length of the floor and layed it in at the buzzer for a win and 16u Steel trophy!




Buckeye Prep came, saw and conquered in Pittsburgh this weekend, and that’s saying something with how loaded the 15u bracket was. By the end of the day Saturday, we were looking at an Elite Eight that consisted of teams such as Baltimore’s Finest, Team Sizzle, Michigan Gators Elite, Erick Green Premier, Wiz Kids Basketball, Canada Elite and Team Felton, along with Prep.

Of these eight, Canada Elite and Buckeye Prep would meet in the final, and deservedly so. Both teams put together great weekends of basketball, beating some tough competition along the way. IN the championship game, it would be Buckeye Prep who would stand tall, using a big second half run to move past Canada Elite and take home the trophy. Dane Goodwin was a big reason for the second half run. The Ohio State commit could not miss and Canada Elite had no answer for him.

15u Buckeye Prep


The 14u bracket may have had one of the most exciting final fours of every division in Pittsburgh. Match ups between the New Jersey Playaz and Rise High as well as Team Ennis and Team Takeover Orange made for exciting semifinal  games. Both games provided packed and raucous crowds, and provided a lot of excitement. NJ Playaz and Team Takeover would meet in the final.

In the final, we saw a back and forth affair between two very good teams. The Playaz were able to gain a little separation before the half, leading 38-30. Takeover came out firing in the second, and would go up by as much as 6. Heru Bligen was huge for Takeover offensively. There was no quit in the Playaz though, and they would tie the game with 3 minutes to play, and take a lead with for good shortly after. They would hold on for a 62-61 win. Raejon Figures was a big time scorer for them and Anas Amos was MVP, being an all around great playmaker for his team when they needed him.

14u NJ Playaz

A special thanks to all of our teams, coaches and parents for making this weekend so successful. Congratulations to all eight teams on their fantastic weekends! The next Jam Fest will be in Rhode Island for the Providence Jam Fest. Look forward to seeing what the New England area has in store for us!


Isaiah Briscoe: Destined to be Elite from Day One

For the past few years, Isaiah Briscoe has been regarded as the best point guard in the class of 2015. ESPN.com has ranked him the 13th best player in the country and Rivals.com has him as high as nine in their ranking. Tomorrow, Briscoe will announce his college commitment on national television. After listening to the countless pitches and carefully evaluating every program, the list has been narrowed down to Kentucky, St. John’s and Connecticut.

Isaiah Briscoe was an all-star at Future All-American Camp before he even took a high school class

Isaiah Briscoe was an all-star at Future All-American Camp before he even took a high school class

Briscoe, who started his high school career at St. Benedict’s Prep before transferring to Roselle Catholic, averaged 22 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and nearly 2 steals a game for the Lions last season. With the start of the 2014-15 high school season quickly approaching, Briscoe gets set to help lead a talented Roselle team on a State Championship run. Many have their guesses as to where the New Jersey guard will land, but only one thing is for sure: we know where he came from.

Before the scholarship offers piled up, before countless days were spent traveling from AAU event to AAU event, Briscoe was a budding star at Hoop Group Future All-American Camp. Only a rising freshman at camp, the point guard was not shy to admit that even at an early age, he felt he can bring a little bit of everything to the table for a team, and he’s not wrong. The point guard is a terrific scorer and possesses a good shooting touch. He makes those around him better, dropping crisp, on time passes for assists; he’s even increased his presence in the rebounding department. As a 14 year old at camp, he particularly impressed with his ability to distribute the basketball and deliver passes with both hands, as well as get to the hoop and score.

A New Jersey State Championship is the goal for Briscoe and his talented Roselle Catholic teammates this season.

A New Jersey State Championship is the goal for Briscoe and his talented Roselle Catholic teammates this season.

You could tell from an early age that Isiah Briscoe was destined for big things on the hardwood. Playing for the New Jersey Playaz AAU program, Briscoe played for their 17U team as a rising freshman. Competing alongside other great NJ guards, like former Hoop Grouper and now San Antonio Spur, Kyle Anderson, Briscoe was able to learn lessons and gain experience that very few players his age get the chance to do. “I take a lot of stuff from Kyle’s game,” Briscoe said. “I look up to him like a big brother. Every time he’s playing I always want to watch him play so I can help my game.”

His game certainly has skyrocketed to another level since Future All-American Camp, and at 6:00 pm EST tomorrow, he will become a prize recruit in one coach’s recruiting class. The question on everyone’s minds right now is which school that will be. Will he choose the defending National Champion Connecticut Huskies? Will he become the newest piece to another powerhouse recruiting class for Kentucky? Or will he opt to stay close to home and represent New York City with St. John’s? As the hype and speculation continues to mount, one thing is for certain: no matter what school he chooses, Isaiah Briscoe will be the most recent Hoop Group Alum to achieve his basketball dream.