St. Joseph’s Finally Gets The Coveted Top Spot in Pre-Season Poll
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ—Despite two years of internal tumult at St. Joseph’s in Metuchen, the Falcons have managed to emerge unscathed with another two GMCT Boys titles in 2017 and 2018. Both tourney runs were very exciting and magical for Joes.
This year though, the title will be much more an expectation as the Falcons have many returning this year including: Tyree Ford, K-Shawn Schulters, Howard McBurnie, Luke Fresco, and Andrew Olden as well as reserves such as Ryan Granito and Jack Hogarty to name a few. Some of the Falcon Flock may be thinking that I am giving their squad the kiss of death, but the Falcons have earned the top spot in the 2018-19 GMC Hoops Pre-Season Top 10.
Let’s Take a Look at who else made it in:
1. St. Joseph’s (23-5) – As previously mentioned, the Falcons have a veteran team returning and for the first time in three years, no off-season chaos to manage.
2. Colonia (17-10) – Patriots did lose a solid senior class including Frankie Lehman, Kristian Chapman, Connor Bevilacqua, and Timmy Caroll as well as head coach Brandon Hall from a year ago, but they still have a solid group to contend with including Chad Baker, Luke Valeriano, Chris Sica, Tommy Mitch, and talent coming up from the JV including Steve Carascio and Jimmy Frage. Jose Rodriguez replaces Hall so the Patriots still have a solid top man at the helm.
3. Bishop Ahr (17-8) – BGA only reached the Quarterfinals last year and lost the likes of Alex Santiago as well as Rashan Ruff, but the Trojans have reloaded with a ton of solid newcomers that include: ?Ernest Carter? III and Omari Fleming from the Patrick School, Derrick Grant Jr. from Piscataway, Jalen Jones from Mater Dei, Hassan Jackson from North Brunswick on top of a solid sophomore class that won the 2018 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tourney a year ago. In addition, Ahr has Bob Turco returning to the GMC after coaching at Notre Dame in Lawrenceville. Turco, the older brother of former St. Joseph’s head coach, Dave Turco, led Monroe to the GMCT Final Four three times in 5 years from 2006 to 2010.
4. Old Bridge (19-8)—The Knights have everyone returning from a year ago including Julius Belton and Mike Oliva. In addition, Jared Meyer returns after missing much of the season last year with an ACL injury. During the off-season, Old Bridge competed in the Hamilton Park Summer League during the summer, and in the Bloomfield College Fall League during the fall. Old Bridge reached the semifinals of the GMCT a year ago for the first time since Sultan Aminu and Tyler Drew led the Knights to the GMCT Final Four as an 11th seed in 2013.
5. Piscataway (23-4)—Piscataway lost a great deal from its team from a year ago including Mattis Arrindell (Ramapo College), Jordan Davidson (USciences), and Keyshawn Grant (College of St. Elizabeth). In addition, the Chiefs also lost Derrick Grant, who transferred to Bishop Ahr. Nevertheless, P-Way still has the likes of guard, Tyree Barba-Bey returning as well as Antonio Chandler, plus talent coming up from a JV program that has won the East Brunswick/GMC JV Boys Tournament in each of the past two seasons.
6. Carteret (23-7)—If losing 1,000 point scorer, Isaiah Daniels-Porter was not enough, the Ramblers lost both Zamar and Zaccheus Brake, who transferred out of state to Bethlehem Catholic in Pennsylvania. Neverthless, Mugsy White’s squad should still be formidable with the likes of Jahlil Nix and Malik Austin returning along with Dante Prioleau, Thamir Lamarr, and Timmy Ellis. In addition, Carteret’s bench includes football standout, Camron McCargo, who transferred in from St. John Vianney. Over the summer, the Ramblers played in the Hamilton Park Summer League.
7. East Brunswick (12-13) – Despite having a lot of talent returning a year ago, the Bears were up and down, and struggled with consistency en route to a 12-13 record. However, EB still has the likes of Travis Cumber returning along with Xavier Fitzgerald, Christian Kuan, and Isaac Holmes. The Bears also have some size coming up from a solid JV team including Brendan Coyne. East Brunswick has some nice newcomers in other spots as well. This team could end up better than expected. EB competed in the Bridgewater Summer League and Immaculata Fall League as well as its own team camp during the off-season.
8. J.P. Stevens (12-13) – The Hawks, coached by the youthful, intense, and energetic Chris Garcia, who had a successful run on the football field this fall with his Freshman Hawks Gridiron squad that only lost one game, and even defeated Piscataway, may be even better than a year ago. Stevens hoops did lose some talent from last year’s squad including the backcourt tandem of Tyrese Conover (College of St. Elizabeth) and Elisha Smith, but it has a good deal of talent returning and coming up including Solomon Smith Kasi Hazzard, and Naysean Burch, who helped guide the Hawks to an undefeated 13-0 and the Championship of the 2018 Rahway Summer League.
9. Edison (15-12) – The Eagles, coached by 2018 GMC Hoops Coach of the Year, Charlie Mohr, lost the likes of Abu Kaikai, Paul Rago (Middlesex County College), and Alkiem Raines (Middlesex County College), but they have a talented group of seniors returning including Christian Wantong (a.k.a. CW), Thomas Johnson Jr., Jaymin Vakharia, and Christian Biolsi. In addition, Edison has Kamil Pryor coming back after transferring in from Piscataway. Pryor is coming off a solid season on the gridiron for EHS, and was along with Wantong, Johnson, Vakharia, and Biolsi, members of an Edison squad that reached the finals of the 2016 Perth Amboy Freshmen Tournament before losing at the buzzer to St. Joseph’s-Green.
10. South River (17-10)—The Rams have a loaded senior class led by the likes of 1,500 point scorer, Derrick Whitaker. In addition to Whitaker, South River has Joey Nigro, Mike DeSantis, Zac Rafano, Silvio Cruz, Davine Mayes, and Shivam Arya returning for their final year. On top of that, the Rams have solid youngsters such as Jayvon Taylor and Zach Harris on the roster. With head coach, Rodney Harris, the Rams have always been up-tempo, but they have shown improvement on the defensive side of the ball with Nigro, Rafano, and DeSantis leading the charge. South River will have a tough start though with 3rd ranked Bishop Ahr on the road in North Edison in its opener, and then neighborhood rival, Sayreville in the Friends of South Amboy Benefit showcase. The Rams will also be without Mike DeSantis for the first two games as a result of a suspension from this past football season.
Other teams getting consideration include: Woodbridge, Monroe, Sayreville, Spotswood, South Brunswick, and Dunellen.