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:

Marion Wiliams To Lead Young Hudson Catholic Team This Season


Hudson Catholic (NJ) has solidified themselves as one of the best high school programs in New Jersey. They are back at it this year with a young team and only have one senior in Marion Williams. Williams will be a big part of this team and lead when needed. He only has one goal in mind for his team. They have been doing a lot to achieve this goal.

“Win a state championship,” said Williams. “We have been working out every day in the off season to achieve this.”

In addition to the senior, Hudson Catholic features highly touted sophomores Javon Quinerly and Luther Muhammad. Junior Pat Strzala will be a key contributor for the Hawks as well. Everything comes back to Williams however, who will strive to be a leader for his team. If he does so he thinks they will be successful.

“I need to be a leader for my team,” he said. “I want to lead us to a state championship, but most importantly play as a team.”

Williams and the rest of his team square off against Blair Academy (NJ). Hudson Catholic is a tough and hardworking bunch of players that won’t back down to tough competition like Blair. This should be a fun matchup and will bring a lot of excitement to Caldwell College (NJ) on December 20th.

Jack McGuire, CBA Look Forward to Rematch Versus Don Bosco


Class of 2016 wing Jack McGuire will help lead CBA (NJ) this season after a very successful junior campaign. CBA will take on Don Bosco Prep (NJ) in the Tip-Off Showcase. Looking forward he looks to help his team out in any way he can this year.

“My goal is to show my scoring ability and provide as much as I can for my team,” said McGuire.

McGuire has been working on two parts of his game for his final high school season.

“I’ve been lifting a lot more and worked on my explosiveness in preparation for this season,” he said.

A couple of things come to mind for him in order for CBA to have another great year.

“The key to a successful season is exceeding the expectations from others and winning,” said the class of 2016 wing.

He is happy to kick off the season with a big event like the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase.

“Yes, we are very excited to be in this Showcase because it’s the first big game of the year in a big event,” McGuire said.


Temple Gibbs Looks to Shine in Final NJ Tip Off

Temple Gibbs looks to lead SHP to a second straight NJ Tip Off win (photo from NJ.com)

Temple Gibbs looks to lead SHP to a second straight NJ Tip Off win (photo from NJ.com)

Temple Gibbs and Seton Hall Prep (NJ) are back and will play in the Hoop Group Tip-Off Showcase against their rival Columbia (NJ). Gibbs has committed to one of the best basketball programs in the country in Notre Dame. He has some goals in mind for his team.

“To win a TOC, to go undefeated and to be the best teammate in the state,” said Gibbs.

He and the rest of his team have been working hard heading into their first event of the year.

“Team lifts, working out every day and going hard in open gym,” he said.

Gibbs believes that SHP needs to focus on four different aspects of the game to be successful this year.

“Playing hard as a team, defense and rebounding and playing hard every play,” he told HoopGroup.com.

He looks at the Tip-Off Showcase as an opportunity to show how hard he and the rest of his team has worked.

“Yes, it’s a great event and it gives us another chance to showcase how hard we’ve been working,” said the Notre Dame commit.