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:

New Jersey Tip-Off Game 7 Preview

Game 7

Sunday 3:45 – St. Anthony’s vs St. Joesph’s Montvale

In Sunday’s second game St. Joe’s Montvale looks to take down one the giants of High School Basketball, Coach Bob Hurley and his St. Anthony Friars. Montvale, the defending Bergen County Jamboree champs  lead by seniors Chauncey Hawkins and Joe Radi look to make a splash on a national stage. While St. Anthony’s do-it-all point guard RJ Cole (Howard Commit) looks to lead the Friars to match last year’s perfect season. St. Anthony’s team is full of versatile, talented players including Nigel Marshall, Ithiel Horton, and SUPER SOPH Xander Rice. They are one of the deepest teams in New Jersey and coached by a Hall Of Famer, this is a game you are not going to want to miss!

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.

Thompson, Friars Take Down Colts

Taurean Thompson dunk
The third game of the 15th Annual Hoop Group Battle of the Boardwalk Showcase featured two of the state’s elite teams as the St. Anthony Friars took on the Christian Brothers Academy Colts. The Colts came into this game looking for a little revenge from last year’s Boardwalk Showcase where Bob Hurley and St. Anthony’s handed CBA a 64-46 loss.

The Friars dominated most of the contest and went on to win by a score of 60-35. While the final score may have been somewhat lopsided, the same cannot be said after the first eight minutes. Playing in front of a sold out crowd at Long Branch High School, Coach Geoff Billet and his CBA squad went toe-to-toe with the Friars in the first quarter, grabbing a 7-6 lead early and only trailing the Friars by just two points after one quarter.

Unfortunately for the Colts, an upset of the #2 team in the state was not meant to be as 6’9″ Junior, Taurean Thompson, and 6’7″ Senior and Wichita State commit, Markis McDuffie, were too much to handle. Thompson would lead the Friars with 13 and McDuffie poured in 11 for a St. Anthony’s team that would remain undefeated in the Boardwalk Showcase.

Markis McDuffie contributed to a balanced Friars scoring effort, adding 11 points in the win

Markis McDuffie contributed to a balanced Friars scoring effort, adding 11 points in the win

The second quarter was when the Friars made their run, clamping down defensively and making it nearly impossible for CBA’s backcourt to set up their offensive sets. Having players listed at 6’9, 6’8, 6’8 and 6’7, St. Anthony’s dominated the battle on the boards, holding CBA to one shot and done. Junior Pat Andree  had a game high 17 points as his sharp-shooting kept the Colts within reach, but it would not be enough, as the Friars simply had too many weapons at their disposal. 6’3″ Junior, Jagan Mosely and 5’11” Sophomore, RJ Cole played air tight defense, causing turnover after turnover. Mosely did a tremendous job of shutting down Jack Laffey, a 6’4″ Senior who is headed to Adelphi University. Mosely held Laffey to just 8 points, 12 lower than his season average.

Adelphi commit Jack Laffey had trouble finding his groove offensively. He finished with just 8 points

Adelphi commit Jack Laffey had trouble finding his groove offensively. He finished with just 8 points

Throughout the game, St. Anthony’s used their size, length and athleticism to bother and disrupt CBA offensively. The Colts never seemed to get comfortable offensively and had trouble containing the size that the Friars’ feature down low. Andree’s performance was a good sign for the Colts as he was able to shine in a game that had little room for scoring. St. Anthony’s was bigger, faster, and stronger than CBA and that was on full display on Saturday as they took down a Top 20 team in the state without a big performance from the Wichita State bound McDuffie.

Players of the Game:

St. Anthony Friars: Taurean Thompson, 6’9″ Junior

CBA Colts: Pat Andree, 6’7″ Junior

Mohamed Bendary fasts and plays at Hoop Group Elite Team Camp

IMG_1813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Mohamed Bendary

As told to Jacob Bogage

Right now, I’m fasting because I’m Muslim. I would consider me and my family practicing Muslims. My father grows out his beard. We fast. We go to the Mosque on Fridays. We pray, all that good stuff.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan started for Muslims June 28 and it’s going to end July 28. It’s 30 days. I’m going to be fasting every time I play in front of a college coach this summer.

A lot of my teammates at St. Anthony’s (N.J.) think I’m crazy. They think I’m drinking or I’m only fasting for a couple hours. It’s pretty intense. My sister fainted last year while she was fasting.

People have no idea most of France’s team was fasting during the World Cup. Algeria, the whole team was fasting.

A lot people had no idea about that or just in general, how many Muslims there are that are fasting right now. I’m just doing it during camp.

I’m in this constant state of lightheadedness. There were some games where I’d look at certain lights and they would look extra radiant to me.

I tell my friends I feel like I’m dreaming, like I’m half conscious. I’ve been losing weight during the month. I don’t really know how much.

The first year I fasted was the fourth grade. My parents wanted me to start at a young age so it wouldn’t be harder for me when I got older. My mom always checked my tongue to see if it was white. When you don’t eat or drink, your mouth gets dry and frothy.

But I understand my teammates. Certain things you’ve never done or never tried, they seem so crazy. We always say at St. Anthony’s, “Your high school team comes before your AAU team. Religion comes before everything else.”

I feel very comfortable going to a Catholic school as a Muslim. I take religion classes at St. Anthony’s and it’s interesting to learn about Catholicism. The other half of the year we learn about world religions.

Even though I feel lightheaded, I’m happy. I got offered a scholarship by NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) yesterday. My father got the call too. He was so excited.

I was talking to coach Bob Hurley, my coach at St. Anthony’s, about if I should come to Team Camp or not and he said I should go. You want to give yourself an opportunity and this is an opportunity.

That offer from NJIT, that’s something that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t come.

Coach has had Muslims on the team before. All the Ahmads, all the Mohammeds. One of our assistant coaches is Muslim. Arjan Perovic, the head coach of my AAU team, The City AAU, is also fasting. We eat at the same time. We can be together when everyone is eating. We’re in the same ship.

God is testing you during this month. You can over indulge on food, water, sex, sleeping. Those things you’re supposed to monitor when you’re fasting. You’re supposed to really be a good Muslim and be close to God.

It’s a very blessed month. A lot of people are holding themselves back and it’s a beautiful thing.