Takes Over Mustangs Squad Moving Up to GMC White
ISELIN, NJ–During this past offseason, there were a couple significant changes for the J.F. Kennedy Boys Basketball team. After being in the GMC Blue Division for nearly a dozen years, the Mustangs are moving up to the White Division in the latest division realignment by the Greater Middlesex Conference.
In addition, there was a coaching change as Drew Hill stepped down after two seasons at the school. Hill, a former standout at Carteret and assistant coach at Colonia, did manage to have some success with the Mustangs over his two years including a second place finish in the Blue Division a year ago despite losing a good deal of talent from his 2014-15 squad that made a solid run towards the end of that season.
Enter in Sebastiaan de Voogd, now a Special Education teacher at JFK, who served as the JV coach as well as an assistant to Hill at Kennedy last season. Under de Voogd’s guidance, the Junior Mustangs, led by the likes of now sophomore Bendiji Pierre, finished 12-7 overall including a victory at Bishop Ahr back on February 6th. The JV Mustangs competed in the 2016 East Brunswick/GMC JV Tournament, where they were seeded 13th and won a preliminary round game over South Plainfield before losing to East Brunswick in the Round of 16.
But that is not where the story begins with de Voogd, who will provide a wealth of experiences from a variety of situations in both playing and coaching basketball to this Kennedy squad making the jump to the GMC White in 2016-17. Originally coming to the United States from the Netherlands in 1993, de Voogd played college basketball at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. After earning his degree from there in 1997, he played professionally in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
During his professional hoops career in Europe, de Voogd played for the Dutch National team, where he saw action in over 20 international games. He returned to the states in 2003, where he joined the Metuchen boys basketball staff led by current Piscataway Tech coach Lenny Reyes. There he coached the Bulldogs freshmen team during the 2003-04 campaign. The following year, de Voogd landed at South Plainfield, and coached on the staff with Jeff Lubreski, and coached JV.
At that time, South Plainfield was not only coming off a 27-1 season that included a second consecutive GMC White championship, the first conference/county title in school history, and an appearance in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 Championship, but also had a talented freshmen squad that defeated Sayreville in the 2004 Perth Amboy/GMC Freshmen Tourney Championship. Some of those players de Voogd had the chance to coach on SP’s JV team when they were sophomores in 2004-05.
He also had the unique chance to experience the Tigers dramatic one point, buzzer beating win over St. Joseph’s in the 2005 GMCT Championship. Led by all time leading scorer, Marquis Jones and sharpshooter, Darren Smith, South Plainfield won its third straight White Division crown, and its second straight GMCT title en route to a 19-6 overall record. SPHS would lose to New Brunswick in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 playoffs after beating the Zebras the three previous times including the 2005 GMCT Quarterfinals.
Moving over into Union County, de Voogd later coached freshmen basketball at New Providence from 2009-13 before returning to the GMC in 2015-16 to be on Hill’s staff at J.F. Kennedy. The Mustangs did lose a little bit in talent from last year’s squad with the likes of big man, Kush Patel, and Christian Pincon graduating. However, JFK does have plenty of talent coming back including Pete Obertan, Tamaj Coleman, Kobie Wells, and football standout Kyle Heaney while Pierre, Rohan Chakke and Rishi Patel are coming up from JV.
In addition to the varsity finishing second in the Blue and the JV having a successful campaign in 2015-16, the Kennedy freshmen team was 10-17. Over the summer, the Mustangs competed in the Rahway Summer League, where they failed to qualify for the four team playoff at the end of the season. GMC Hoops saw the Mustangs in action several times including a couple wild games against Carteret (47-37) and Perth Amboy (51-50) that ended up in losses. Kennedy, which finished the summer at 2-8, also lost to Scotch Plains (56-47).
Obertan is perhaps the top player returning for the Mustangs. He not only brings size, but also the ability to score in a variety of ways including the perimeter. Coleman has the potential to be a tremendous playmaker with his quickness, speed, ball handling ability, and great passing. Wells is a veteran who can make plays with his passing, ball handling, and shooting. Heaney, the quarterback of the football team this fall, brings a scrappiness and toughness, especially on the inside.
Pierre was selected to the All GMC Hoops JV team last season while Chakke provides some scoring punch from the perimeter and Patel gives some additional length and scoring down low. The Mustangs will open the season at New Brunswick, which is also looking to improve from last year. Then, J.F. Kennedy takes on Sayreville on December 20th on the road, and North Brunswick in its home opener on December 22nd before competing in the LeGrand/Haley Holiday Jubilee at Colonia over the holidays.