Sayreville and Woodbridge a Cut Above the Rest in GMC White
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ—Over the past two seasons, the Colonia Patriots returned to form by winning at least a share of the GMC White. This year though, it appears that Sayreville and Woodbridge will be battling it out for the top spot in the GMC White.
With Colonia losing significant talent from those teams over the past two seasons including 1,000 point scorer Chase Barneys and Kolby Chapman, the window has opened for the Bombers and Barrons, which return just about everybody from last year’s squads.
North Brunswick moves down from the GMC Red while J.F. Kennedy moves up from the GMC Blue. The Raiders have a good deal of talent coming up from a JV team that won the East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament while Kennedy has a veteran squad that finished second in the Blue Division a year ago.
New Brunswick is looking to improve this season after four years of struggle. New head coach, Samir Sanu has the Zebras striving to be better. NBHS has several key players returning from last year’s team along with some promising talent coming up from the JV level and Middle School. In addition, German Pimentel, a standout at Piscataway Tech the past two years, has transferred in.
Similarly, Edison, one of the most competitive teams in the GMC last year despite its 6-19 overall record, is looking to make inroads towards respectability in the GMC White. Back are standouts Justin Turner and Joe Cudakiewicz while sophomores Christian Wantong and Jaymin Vakharia are coming up from a freshmen team that went 20-3 a year ago. Here is a look at the division in 2016-17:
2016-17 GMC White Division—Predicted Order of Finish
Last year’s record in parenthesis
- Sayreville (18-10)
- Woodbridge (20-6)
- North Brunswick (5-16)
- Colonia (16-9)
- Edison (6-19)
- New Brunswick (3-21)
- J.F. Kennedy (9-15)
Some thoughts: At first glance, one would think that this division is one for Sayreville and Woodbridge to lose. These two teams should be fighting it out for the division title come the regular season’s end in February. Both have a ton of talent back from very good teams last year.
The Bombers may have a slight edge though. Besides returning the likes of Ryan O’Leary and big man, Jahsim Floyd, the Bombers also have five other key players back this year. In addition, the Bombers added St. Joseph’s transfer Xavier Townes to its roster and have last year’s JV MVP, Zac Kaczmarek coming up to the varsity.
Woodbridge should still be competitive though. Remember, the Barrons defeated the Bombers twice during the season last year including a match-up in the 2016 GMCT Quarterfinals. Coached by Matt Gigliello, Woodbridge are sound on the defensive end, and are led by seniors Quran Robinson, Quassim Glover, Keshaun Henry, and Harry Rutkowski.
Many might be thinking how can a North Brunswick team that went 5-16 last year, be projected to finish as high as third in the division this year. Keep in mind this: Many of the players on this year’s North Brunswick Team played on a JV team last year that defeated a then junior laden South Brunswick team that won the JV tourney the year before twice including in the Championship Game of the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament.
Colonia may have lost some punch to its starting lineup due to graduation, and could be rebuilding a bit this year, but they have a very talented junior class led by Christian Chapman and Frank Lehman. Two years ago as freshmen, this group of juniors reached the Final Four of the 2015 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament before losing to North Brunswick in overtime in the semifinals. Those then Freshmen Patriots ended up finishing third in the tourney.
Expect both New Brunswick and Edison to be better this year. The Zebras of NBHS made some strides this off-season under new head coach and former Sayreville standout, Samir Sanu. New Brunswick has several players returning from last year’s team including football standouts, Curtis Revan and Jahbree Jeffreys-Seawright as well as talent coming up from a JV team that went 12-10 including Jodie Harris and Frankie Lebron. The Zebras also have promising talent coming up from the Middle School level, and have football standout German Pimentel transferring in from Piscataway Tech.
Meanwhile, Edison, one of the most, if not the most competitive team in the conference despite its sub .500 record, has not only the likes of starters Justin Turner and Joe Cudakiewicz returning, but they too, have talent coming up from a JV team that went 11-10 including an overtime loss at New Brunswick on January 24th. Finally, the Eagles have a talented group of sophomores coming up including Christian Wantong and Jaymin Vakharia. Last year, as freshmen, Edison’s current sophomore class finished 20-3 and reached the final of the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament before losing to St. Joseph’s-Green at the buzzer.
J.F. Kennedy moves up from the Blue Division, where it finished second last year. The Mustangs have a good deal of talent coming back from that team a year ago including forward, Pete Obertan, point guard Tamaj Coleman, and guard Kobie Wells. Kennedy, which went through a coaching change for the third time in the past five years with last year’s JV coach, Bas de Voogd taking the helm, had success at the JV level with the likes of Bendiji Pierre, Rohan Chakke, and Rishi Patel coming up from that team, which went 12-7 in 2015-16.
2016-17 GMC White Division—A Detailed Look
Here is a more detailed look at each team in the Greater Middlesex Conference’s White Division for the upcoming 2016-17 season:
Coach: John Wojcik
Career Coaching Record: 85-73
Coaching Record At School: 85-73
Last Year’s Overall Record: 18-10
Last Year’s Division Record: 12-2, Tied for 1st in GMC White Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 15-5
Last Year’s Accomplishments: Won a share of the GMC White Division; Reached the GMCT Quarterfinals for the fourth straight year. Reached Quarterfinals of Central Jersey Group 4 State Tournament.
Last Year’s JV Team: Seeded 17th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Lost to Spotswood in the Preliminary Round.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Seeded 11th in the 2015 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Defeated Colonia in the Round of 16. Lost to Old Bridge in the Quarterfinals.
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: Kean Spring League, East Brunswick Team Camp, Hamilton Park Summer League, Monroe Sports Center Summer League, and Hoop Group Headquarters Fall League.
Returning Starters: Jahsim Floyd (6’8” Sr. F), Jayson DeMild (6’2” Sr. G), Ryan O’Leary (6’4” Sr. G), and Henny Manutes (6’1” Sr. G).
Returning Reserves: Derek Astarita (5’10” Jr. G), Opeluwa Olaloko (6’4” Sr. F), Elijah Clark (6’3” Jr. G), and Michael Gray (5’10” Sr. G).
Key Losses From Last Season: Zach Alessi (6’3″ F).
Key Newcomers: Xavier Townes (6’0″ Sr. G), Zac Kaczmarek (5’11”, Jr. G), and Robert Krolick (6’1″, Jr. G).
Outlook: The Sayreville Bombers appear to be the team to beat at the onset of the 2016-17 Greater Middlesex Conference Boys Basketball Season. The Bombers only lost one player from last year’s GMCT Quarterfinal and Central Jersey Group 4 Quarterfinal team, and got a couple more additions.
On top of having a roster that includes the length, athleticism, and perimeter scoring of O’Leary, Floyd, and Clark, they now have Xavier Townes coming in from St. Joseph’s as well as Zac Kaczmarek coming up from the junior varsity, where he was most valuable player last year.
Sayreville also has plenty of depth with the likes of Clark, Kaczmarek, Astarita, Olaloko, and Krolick coming off the bench. The combination of size, athleticism, perimeter scoring, depth, and experience makes Sayreville tough to beat. The key will be Floyd. If he comes to play everyday, the sky is the limit for this squad.
O’Leary can do so much for the Bombers. Many just focus on his shooting and scoring, but his length allows him to be a great rebounder and defender. Mautes has continued to improve in his shooting while being a superb rebounder at his position. Townes will get a chance to show how good a player he is in a starting role.
Expect the Bombers to do great things once the team gets a chance to gel. Several of the players: Floyd, Clark, and DeMild, were on this year’s North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 Championship football team while Townes transferred into the school in September. So it may take a little time for all the ingredients to come together.
Coach: Matt Gigliello
Career Coaching Record: 73-32
Coaching Record At School: 73-32
Last Year’s Overall Record: 20-6
Last Year’s Division Record: 10-4, 3rd in GMC White Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 15-5
Last Year’s Accomplishments: Reached GMCT Elite Eight for the fourth straight year. Reached the GMCT Final Four for the 2nd time in four years. Qualified for the North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 State Playoffs
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 15-6; Seeded 7th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Defeated Old Bridge in the Round of 16. Lost to South Brunswick in the Quarterfinals.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Went 9-11; Seeded 12th in the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Lost to St. Joseph’s-White (57-44) in the Round of 16.
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: Linden Summer League
Returning Starters: Quassim Glover (6’2” Sr. G) and Keshaun Henry (5’9” Sr. G), Harry Rutkowski (6’4” Sr. F), Quran Robinson (6’0” Sr. G), and Hura Blaine (6’2” Sr. G).
Returning Reserves: Curtis Nesbit (5’9” Jr. G), Kemari Piersol (6’0” Jr. G), Trajon Pritchard (6’2” Sr. F), Terrel Smith (6’3” Jr. F), and Kesean Glover (5’10” So. G)
Key Losses From Last Season: None.
Key Newcomers: Evan Romaniak (6’2″ Sr. F), Tim Mondesir (6’2″ Jr. F), and Danny Thermitus (6’6″ Jr. F).
Outlook: Look for the Barrons to compete for not only the GMC White crown with Sayreville, but also for the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament Championship come February.
Like Sayreville, Woodbridge has everyone returning including its starting five and several key reserves from last year when it reached the 2016 GMCT Final Four. The team has balanced scoring, plays solid defense, can score in transition and from the perimeter.
Quassim Glover and Keshaun Henry are the veterans of this experienced group. Both will be playing varsity for four years. Both also excelled on the football field. Glover is also no stranger to making the big shot. Two seasons ago, he connected on a buzzer beater shot to defeat Sayreville at Woodbridge High School.
Harry Rutkowski, who is a standout baseball player at WHS, has a solid all around game. He plays tough defense, can shoot the three, does a great job of taking care of the basketball, and good footwork. While he may be a bit undersized at his position against the likes of Sayreville’s Floyd, he holds his own very well.
Quran Robinson came on to the scene last year as an offensive force for the Barrons. His perimeter shooting gives the Barrons another offensive weapon. Hura Blaine is another returning starter, who also played football this year. He is athletic, can score in transition, and shoot the three.
Woodbridge also has depth with the likes of Curtis Nesbit and Kemari Persol coming off the bench. Nesbit came up with a big play to help the Barrons come from behind to defeat A.L. Johnson at the Eric LeGrand Classic last year. Persol hit several big shots in Woodbridge’s win over Sayreville in the GMCT Quarterfinals.
The Barrons open up the season on the road at Edison, and then host North Brunswick before finishing its first week of play on the road again at New Brunswick. Then, over the holidays, Woodbridge will again be participating in the LeGrand-Haley Holiday Jubilee at Colonia High School. The Barrons will also compete again in the Eric LeGrand Classic as well as participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout at Montgomery HS in January.
North Brunswick Raiders
Team: North Brunswick
Coach: Ed Breheney
Career Coaching Record: 367-310
Coaching Record At School: 357-277
Last Year’s Overall Record: 5-16
Last Year’s Division Record: 2-10, Sixth Place in GMC Red
Last Year’s Conference Record: 3-12
Last Year’s Accomplishments: None.
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 18-2; Top Seed in the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Defeated South Brunswick (47-45) in the Championship.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Seeded 17th in the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament Defeated Metuchen in the Preliminary Round. Lost to Edison in the Round of 16 (62-26).
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: East Brunswick Team Camp and Rutgers Team Camp
Returning Starters: Adryan Salazar (6’1” Sr. F), Jordan Salisbury (5’10” Jr. G), Marquise Stewart (6’3”, Sr., F)
Returning Reserves: Mwanza Fitzpatrick (6’2″, Jr. F)
Key Losses From Last Season: Pranay Bhandare (5’11” G), Basit Ali-Khan (5’11” G), Francis Omowole (5’10” G), Bryjon Smith (6’0” F), Elijah Hicks (6’0”, G), and Eric Reardon (6’1”, F).
Key Newcomers: Quadir Butler (5’10” Sr. G), Jhonell Brown (6’1″ Sr. F), Demond Miller (6’1″ Sr. G), Dan Reardon (6’1″ Jr. F), Avery Clagget (6’0″ Jr. G), Maneet Batra (6’0″ Jr. G), Chernoh Barrie (6’4″, Jr. C).
Outlook: The Raiders return to the Greater Middlesex Conference’s White DIvision, where it had dominated with three straight division championships before moving up to the GMC Red two seasons ago.
In addition, North Brunswick brings down a talented group of juniors and seniors from a JV squad that won the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament over the defending champion, South Brunswick.
Two years ago, NBTHS’ talented junior class also won the 2015 Perth Amboy/GMC Tournament by defeating Colonia in overtime in a classic semifinal, and then downing East Brunswick in the Championship.
North Brunswick’s JV squad, led by the likes of Jordan Salisbury, Avery Clagget, Jhonell Brown, and Mwanza Fitzpatrick, was able to have a great deal of success last year against a Red Division schedule. So, with all of that talent moving down to the GMC White, the Raiders should have enough to be competitive in the division.
Over the summer, GMC Hoops had a chance to see the Raiders in action against Old Bridge in the 2016 East Brunswick Team Camp, and they competed very well. As a matter of fact, North Brunswick had an 8 point lead in the second half before the Knights rallied to win in the closing seconds.
Expect the Raiders to have some ups and downs early, but as the season goes along and they get more acquainted with the competition at the varsity level, this group will become a contender in the White Division.
Coach: Brandon Hall
Career Coaching Record: First Year Coaching Varsity
Coaching Record At School: First Year Coaching Varsity
Last Year’s Overall Record: 16-9
Last Year’s Division Record: 12-2, Tied for 1st in GMC White Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 14-3
Last Year’s Accomplishments: GMC White Division Co-Champions, Reached Quarterfinals of GMCT and North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 State Tournament
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 6-12; Seeded 14th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Defeated South River in the Preliminary Round. Lost to Piscataway in the Round of 16.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Went 15-7; Seeded 6th in the 2015 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Lost to Sayreville in the Round of 16.
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: Linden Summer League and Colonia JV Summer League.
Returning Starters: Kristian Chapmann (6’3” Jr. F) and Frank Lehman (6’0″ Jr. PG)
Returning Reserves: Eric Marcus (6’0” Sr. F), Chris Pannone (5’10” Sr. G), Sarim Saqib (6’2″ Sr. F), and Matt Zweibel (6’1″ Jr. F)
Key Losses From Last Season: Chase Barneys (6’0″ G now playing at Rutgers-Newark), Kolby Chapmann (6’0″ G now playing at Central Penn College), Bryce Barneys (6’1″ G now playing football at Monmouth University), Michael Wilson (6’2″ G), Karl Willimar (6’2″ G), and Michael Lacko (6’5″ Sr. C).
Key Newcomers: Luke Valeriano (5’11” So. G), Tim Carroll (6’2″ Jr. F), Oliver French (6’3″ Jr. C), Tommy Mitch (6’0″ Jr. G), Connor Bevilacqua (6’2″ Jr. G), Ramel Bonnie (6’1″ Jr. G), and Chris Sica (6’4″ Jr. C).
Outlook: Colonia will be going through a bit of a rebuilding year after the graduation of such players as Chase Barneys, Kolby Chapmann, and Bryce Barneys. The team is loaded with juniors led by returning starters Frank Lehman and Kristian Chapmann. Eric Marcus and Chris Pannone are top returning reserves, and the Patriots got a nice new addition with St. Joseph’s transfer Luke Valeriano.
First year head coach, Brandon Hall is no stranger in these parts. The former Woodbridge assistant and JV coach is taking on the head coaching duties at his alma mater, where he led the Patriots to a GMCT crown in 2006 and a Final Four appearance in 2008. He also led the Pats to a North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 sectional championship in 2007 and a finals appearance in 2008.
Expect Colonia to take some lumps early on, but as this group gets more experience and familiar with each other on the floor, they will get better, and could be a factor in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament and State Playoffs come February and March. Two years ago as freshmen, the current junior class reached the Final Four of the Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament before losing in overtime to North Brunswick in the semifinals. Lehman, French, and Kristian Chapmann were key members on that team.
Colonia will open the season with a non-conference game at Newark Collegiate and then face Sayreville in an early season test to close out week one. Then, over the holidays, the Patriots will host the LeGrand-Haley Holiday Jubilee, and face Franklin, J.F. Kennedy, and Woodbridge in a round-robin.
Coach: Charlie Mohr
Career Coaching Record: 87-206
Coaching Record At School: 87-206
Last Year’s Overall Record: 6-19
Last Year’s Division Record: 4-10, 6th in GMC White Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 6-16
Last Year’s Accomplishments: Upset Piscataway in the GMCT Preliminary Round. Reached GMCT Round of 16.
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 11-10; Seeded 9th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Lost to Perth Amboy in the Round of 16.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Went 20-3; Top seed in the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Reached Championship Game. Lost to St. Joseph’s-Green (46-43).
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: East Brunswick Team Camp and Rahway Summer League.
Returning Starters: Justin Turner (5’9” Sr. G) and Joe Cudakiewicz (5’9” Sr. G)
Returning Reserves: Cecil Bonds (6’1” Sr. C), Moiz Manzoor (6’2” Sr. F), and Dominic Kurtyan (5’9” Sr. G).
Key Losses From Last Season: Brandon Radd (5’7” G), John Zanfordino (6’1” F), Alpha Tarawally (6’0” F), and Haaziq Daniels (6’0” Jr. G—transferred to St. John Vianney).
Key Newcomers: Alkeim Raines (5’10” Jr. G), Ahmed Romer (5’9” Jr. G), Abu Kaikai (6’4” Jr. C), Christian Wantong (6’1” So. F), and Jaymin Vakharia (5’10” So. G).
Outlook: Despite its 6-19 overall record last season, the Edison Eagles were one of the most competitive teams in the conference night in and night out last year. GMC Hoops saw the Eagles in action on several occasions during the course of the season, and they didn’t disappoint by making every game close.
The Eagles finished the season on a positive note by reaching the GMCT Round of 16 after knocking off a 12th seeded Piscataway team that had edged them during the regular season. In addition, the future looked bright with the Freshmen team going 20-3 under the direction of Chris Banos, and reaching the Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tourney final before falling at the buzzer to St. Joseph’s-Green (46-43).
Over the summer, improvement continued despite the losses of Brandon Radd, John Zanfordino, and Alpha Tarawally to graduation and the transfer of Haaziq Daniels to St. John Vianney to play football. The Eagles played very well after a slow start at the 2016 Rahway Summer League. At Rahway, Edison lost its first three games before winning its last 7 to finish as one of the four teams to qualify for the playoffs. Then, the Eagles defeated Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the semifinals before losing to arch rival J.P. Stevens in the Championship.
Edison has two key players coming back in Justin Turner, quarterback of the football team, and Joe Cudakiewicz. In addition, the Eagles have reserves such as Cecil Bonds, Moiz Manor, and Dominic Kurtyan, another football standout, returning. Newcomers to the roster include two crown jewels from its prized sophomore class in Christian Wantong and Jaymin Vakharia. Wantong was a GMC Hoops All Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament selection, and can cause problems on the inside while Vakharia is a perimeter threat.
Expect the Eagles to get better, especially as the season goes along. They are well coached and scratch and claw to stay in every game. It may not result in a division title this year, but it could bring an improved record over the previous two seasons.
New Brunswick Zebras
Team: New Brunswick
Coach: Samir Sanu
Career Coaching Record: First varsity head coaching job; Previously coached NBHS JV and New Brunswick Middle School teams
Coaching Record At School: N/A; First varsity head coaching job
Last Year’s Overall Record: N/A; First varsity head coaching job
Last Year’s Division Record: 0-14, 8th in GMC White Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 2-16
Last Year’s Accomplishments: Finished the season with 3 wins in last 5 games including upsets of 19th seeded Middlesex and 14th seeded North Brunswick in GMCT Play-In and Preliminary Rounds.
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 12-10; Seeded 18th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Defeated 15th seeded Bishop Ahr in the Preliminary Round and lost to 2nd seeded and eventual finalist South Brunswick in the Round of 16.
Last Year’s Freshman Team: Didn’t have a freshmen team last year.
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: Odie Page Summer League
Returning Starters: Curtis Revan (6’3” Sr. F), Wenzel Dunlap (5’9” Jr. G), and Kenny Lebron (5’10” So. G).
Returning Reserves: Jordan Harris (5’7” So. G), Jah’bree Jeffery (6’2”, 170), and Shaquille Daniels (5’9” Jr. G)
Key Losses From Last Season: Emmanuel Osei (6’6” F/C), Samad Davila (5’10” Sr. G), Maurice Ffrench (5’9” G—now playing football at Pitt), C.J. Hernandez (5’8” G), Mohammed Bangura (6’1” C), and Umar Sannoh (6’0” Sr. G/F).
Key Newcomers: German Pimentel (6’6” Sr. F), Ahyan Brown-Miller (5’9” Fr. G), Ny’dir Harmon (5’11” Fr. G), Nymir Belk (6’2” Jr. F), Joseph Harris (6’2” Sr. F), Brandon Rodriguez (6’2” Jr. F), Aaron Hayler (6’0” Jr. G),
Outlook: There is nowhere to go but up for the Zebras after the program has endured an 8-81 overall record including a 5-51 mark in the GMC White over he last four years. There has been a lot of changeover at the top since the late Odie Page stepped down in 2004. There have been six different coaches at New Brunswick since Page left, and new head coach, Samir Sanu, a former Sayreville standout, is looking to keep things stable at the top for a while.
Sanu, who coached a number of the current JV and varsity players when they were in New Brunswick Middle School, had a successful campaign as JV coach a year ago when NBHS fielded a 12-10 record including a Preliminary round win over Bishop Ahr in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Over the summer, the Zebras made strides by going 7-2 in the Odie Page Summer League including a regular season win over South Brunswick.
The Zebras reached the finals of the playoffs in the Odie Page Summer League before bowing out to Elizabeth. New Brunswick also competed in the Allentown Jam Fest out in Pennsylvania and did well. Another positive sign is the return of a freshmen team at New Brunswick. There are actually a couple freshmen on this year’s varsity roster as well including a point guard that Sanu is really high on.
On top of good talent coming up from the JV and freshmen levels, New Brunswick got another break when German Pimentel transferred in from Piscataway Tech where he played basketball and baseball while playing football at NBHS. Pimentel provides length, competitiveness, and athleticism to the team. Expect New Brunswick to improve this season, and be in the middle of the pack.
J.F. Kennedy Mustangs
Team: J.F. Kennedy
Coach: Sebastiaan de Voogd
Career Coaching Record: First varsity head coaching job
Coaching Record At School: N/A; First varsity head coaching job
Last Year’s Overall Record: 9-15
Last Year’s Division Record: 7-3, 2nd in GMC Blue Division
Last Year’s Conference Record: 8-8
Last Year’s Accomplishments: Qualified for North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 State Playoffs. Knocked off previously undefeated Spotswood.
Last Year’s JV Team: Went 12-7: Seeded 13th in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament. Defeated 20th seeded South Plainfield in Preliminary Round. Lost to East Brunswick in the Round of 16.
Last Year’s Freshman Team10-7: Seeded 9th in the 2016 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tournament. Defeated 8th seeded Bishop Ahr in the Round of 16. Lost to top seeded Edison (55-37) in Quarterfinals.
Off-Season Leagues/Team Camps: Rahway Summer League and East Brunswick Team Camp.
Returning Starters: Pete Obertan (6’6” Sr. F), Kobie Wells (6’0” Jr. G), Tamaj Coleman (5’7” Sr. G), Carlton Sears (6’0”, Sr. G).
Returning Reserves: Kyle Heaney (6’2”, Sr. G), Rishi Patel (6’3” Jr. F), Bendji Pierre (6’4” So. F), Rohan Chakke (5’11” Jr. G), and Elijah Calvert (5’8” Sr. G).
Key Losses From Last Season: Kush Patel (6’4” C) and Christian Pincon (6’0 G).
Key Newcomers: David Morales (5’7 Sr. G), Mamadou Ndome (6’0” Sr. G), and Hossam El Rashidy (6’5” Jr. F) .
Outlook: The Mustangs bring a lot back from a year ago. Kennedy only lost two key players from last year’s team in Kush Patel and Christian Pincon. They also add a solid newcomer in Bendiji Pierre, who made the All GMC Hoops JV Squad as a freshman. However, J.F. Kennedy, which finished second in the GMC Blue, and went 9-15 overall a year ago, moves up to the rough and tumble world of the GMC White.
There were also changes at Kennedy with Sebastiaan deVoogd taking over as the third head varsity boys basketball coach at the school in the last five years. DeVoogd comes with a wealth of experience having played in Europe including the Dutch National team, and also serving as an assistant coach to Jeff Lubreski at South Plainfield when the Tigers repeated at GMCT Champions in 2005.
Over the summer, the Mustangs competed in the Rahway Summer League, where they didn’t qualify for the playoffs with a 2-8 overall regular season record, but were competitive in the three games that GMC Hoops saw them play in including a one point loss to Perth Amboy that saw the Panthers rally from a late second half deficit to win. Pete Obertan is the focal point of the Kennedy offense.
Obertan, who is playing varsity for the third year, can score inside and out, has a good handle, and rebounds well, will be expected to put up good numbers for the Mustangs. Tamaj Coleman is a lightning quick point guard, with solid playmaking capabilities. Kobie Wells can also make plays with his passing and shooting. Kyle Heaney, who came off the bench last year as a junior brings his football toughness and scrappiness as well as some scoring and rebounding.
Rohan Chakke is another player coming up from the JV, who has a good shooting stroke. Kennedy will be tested early and often in the GMC White. There will be no easy nights in this division. The Mustangs start the season on the road at New Brunswick and Sayreville before playing North Brunswick in its home opener to round out the first week. Then, over the holidays, Kennedy will compete in the LeGrand-Haley Jubilee against Franklin and its neighborhood rivals, Colonia and Woodbridge.