GMC Hoops Pre-Season Top 10–December 19, 2019

2019-20 Pre-Season Rankings


  1. St. Thomas Aquinas (21-7)–The Trojans, which reached the GMCT Elite Eight in each of the past two seasons is looking to win the GMCT Boys Tourney for the first time since the 1991-92 season, and make a run in the Non-Public A South Tourney, where they won their first playoff game in 38 years over Donovan Catholic last February.  With Wake Forest commit, Quadry Adams and Southern New Hampshire commit Derrick Grant leading the way, the Trojans have a very talented lineup consisting of Jaquan Harris, Kyree Henry, Jalen Jones, Tristian Jeffries, Mehki Johnson, and Samar Abdullah. St. Thomas Aquinas opens the season: At South River on Thursday, vs. Mater Dei in the Friends of South Amboy Benefit Showcase, vs. Bergen Catholic at the Hoop Group Tip-Off Classic, and in the Albert Martin Buc Classic over the holidays.
  2. St. Joseph’s (19-9)–Don’t count out the Falcons just yet.  Despite a third different coach in the last four seaons, St. Joe’s still has the likes of seniors Tyree Ford and K-Shawn Schulters returning as well as fellow classmates Andrew Olden, Demarcus Shepard, Martin Greene, Adam Slawinski, Eric Amponsah, and Avery Nieves.  In addition, St. Joe’s has promising juniors Maurice Johnson, Kody Robinson, and Cal Goodwill coming back while Ethan Simmon, a promising sophomore transfers in from St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Joseph’s opens the season: At East Brunswick on Friday night, and then against West Morris Central in the J.P. Flynn Holiday Tournament at Delbarton.
  3. New Brunswick (17-8)–The Zebras will be looking to reach at least the GMCT Final Four for the second straight season and perhaps its first MCT/GMCT Championship Game since losing to Carteret in 1986.  New Brunswick returns 1,100 point scorer, Ahyan Brown-Miller as well as big man Tahjay Moore, Ny’dir Harmon, sophomore Josiah Brown along with newcomers Taaje Welcome, Will Britton, and Jayvon Taylor.  The Zebras won the Odie Page Summer League and also competed in the East Brunswick Team Camp and the Montgomery Team Camp among other things this past off-season. New Brunswick opens the season: At J.F. Kennedy on Thursday, at Trenton on Monday, and against East Brunswick and South Brunswick in the Brunswick Classic over the holidays on December 27th and 28th.
  4. South Brunswick (12-13)–The Vikings return a very solid nucleus from a vastly improved team of a year ago.  Devin Strickland and Justin Carbone lead a squad that also has a solid supporting cast including C.J. Mangrum, Ty Murchison, Akhil Edekar, sophomores Damien Downs, Shyheim Davis, and Yathin Vermula, and junior Andrew Tesser.  The Vikings reached the Championship Game of the Mercer County Summer League at West Windsor as well as competed in the Odie Page Summer League, East Brunswick Team Camp, Summer Primetime Shootout, and the Linden Fall League. South Brunswick opens the season: At Old Bridge on Friday afternoon, at Hightstown on Monday, and then against North Brunswick and New Brunswick in the Brunswick Classic on December 27th and 28th.
  5. Old Bridge (21-5)–The Knights still have high expectations despite losing the likes of 1,000 point scorer Julius Belton, leading three point shooter Mike Oliva, and 2019 GMC Hoops Comeback Player of the Year, Jared Meyer (now at Middlesex County College).  Sean Williams and Ryan DeLaCuesta return this year along with big man Jaden Caban and last year reserves Lucas Grissett and Chris Wyer.  Peter Gamba also provides some additonal size, length, and perimeter shooting off the bench.  The Knights competed at the East Brunswick Team Camp, Hamilton Park Summer League, Bloomfield College Fall League, and the Linden Fall League while its JV competed at the Middlesex HS JV League. Old Bridge opens the season: vs. South Brunswick at home on Friday afternoon, and versus Manalapan in the opening round of the Matawan Huskies Holiday Classic on Friday, December 27th.
  6. Monroe (17-11)–Monroe lost 80 percent of its starting five from a year ago, but return senior guard Andrew Turco, who really took over this off-season with performances such as a 35 point game against Montgomery at the Montgomery Summer Team Camp in June, and a 30 point plus game versus Colonia in the Montgomery Fall Team Camp in October.  In addition, big man, Chris Kobierowski has made big strides this off-season, and provides the Falcons with a solid low post presence.  The Falcons also have a talented junior class led by the likes of point guard, Jake Labaska, and a solid sophomore class led by Josh Okocha.  The Falcons competed in the Montgomery Summer and Fall Team Camps as well as in the Odie Page Summer League. Monroe opens the season: At J.P. Stevens on Friday afternoon, at Marist of Bayonne on Monday night, and then against Robbinsville in the opening round of the Monroe Township Holiday Tournament on Saturday, December 28th.
  7. Piscataway (18-11)–Not much is expected for the Chiefs by some this season, especially with the graduation of 12 players from last year’s GMCT Finalist and North Jersey Section 2 Group 4 semifinalist.  However, P-Way still has talented seniors such as Keshawn Peterson and Jonathan Livingston returning as well as the likes of Denzel Taylor transferring in from Piscataway.  There are also other newcomers such as Khalief Walker, football standout Angel LaPorte, D’Andre Randolph, and juniors William Corley Jr. and Gabe Laxamana.  Over the summer and fall, the Chiefs competed in the East Brunswick Team Camp, the Bridgewater Summer League, Odie Page Summer League, and Immaculata Fall League. Piscataway opens the season: At Perth Amboy on Friday night, and then compete in the Hillsborough Holiday Hoops Tournament over the holidays starting on Friday, December 27th.
  8. Carteret (17-10)–The Ramblers lost a good deal of talent from last year’s team and a squad that has made three straight GMCT Elite Eight berths.  Jahlil Nix, Timothy Ellis (Middlesex County College), and Thamir Lamarr all graduated while Malik Austin transferred to Hudson Catholic.  Nevertheless, the Ramblers still have the likes of Cam McCargo, Starell Hearns, Donte Prioleau, and Hubert Ramos coming back along with youngster Rahman White coming up as well as sophomore guard Aiden Ramirez in the mix too.  Carteret has looked good in pre-season scrimmages versus New Brunswick and Marlboro with McCargo and Hearns leading the way. Carteret opens the season: At Metuchen on Thursday evening, and then at Plainfield on Saturday afternoon before opening play in the Matawan Huskies Holiday Classic over the holidays versus Holmdel on Friday, December 27th.
  9. Colonia (24-5)—The Patriots graduated its entire starting five including 2019 GMC Hoops Player of the Year, Chad Baker (now at Spire Academy) and 1,000 point scorer, Luke Valeriano (now at Ramapo) from last year’s GMCT Semifinalist, and North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 Championship, but still have plenty of talent to remain relevant in the GMC White and GMCT picture.  J.J. Frage, who stepped up his game with his post season run in the state playoffs after Valeriano went down with a season ending injury last season.  Jordan Derkack, the son of mid 1990s Colonia standout, Gene Derkack, who teamed up with the likes of former Patriots coach, Chris Chiera, Marc Mascolo, and Tyrone Morgan for a GMCT Final Four run in 1994, also returns, and looks ready to run the ship.  There are also the likes of reserves such as Larenzo Jackson, Ruben Reyes and Brandon Wasserman returning as well as promising sophomores Billy Anderson, Mike Howell, and J.T. Kroner along witth Dwayne DeRios coming up, and St. Thomas Aquinas transfer, Mike Edwards coming in.  The Patriots had a busier than usual off-season by playing in the Montgomery Summer and Fall Team Camps, Kean University High School Shootout, Elizabeth Summer League, Bridgewater Summer League, and Elizabeth Fall League. Colonia opens the season: With a non-conference game against Scotch Plains-Fanwood at home on Friday night, and then travel to play Franklin on the road on Monday evening before taking on West Orange in the opening round of the 2019 Hillsborough Holiday Hoops Tourney over the holidays on Friday, December 27th.
  10. Dunellen (20-7)—The Destroyers lost the likes of Noah Wenzel, Alex Gibney, Casey Kilwa, Baraka Yabidi, and Angel Suarez, but still have plenty of firepower returning.  Led by senior and newly crowned all time leading scorer, Tyje’ Kelton (1,369 points) and junior Drew Johnson (811 points), who should go over 1,000 points sometime in January, Dunellen still has plenty of scoring back.  In addition, Nasir White is looking to make a big jump with his athleticism, and improved game while Jalen Thomas, Mike Burr, and sophomore Nasir Tippett makeup a backcourt that may be inexperienced, but has plenty of talent and promise.  The Destroyers competed in the East Brunswick Team Camp and Bound Brook Summer League, and went 16-4 during the summer against some good competition including Edison and Watchung Hills.  In addition, DHS is playing up this year by participating in three showcases in January including the Kayla Spooner Memorial Basketball Showcase at Plainfield on January 4th, the Hopatcong Hoops Showcase on January 12th, and the MLK Roundball Classic at New Brunswick on January 20th. Dunellen opens the season: At Wardlaw-Hartridge on Saturday morning, and then open up the the annual Shello-Santy Holiday Tournament at the Faber against North Plainfield on Thursday, December 26th.

*Also considered:  11. Edison, 12. Wardlaw-Hartridge, 13. Woodbridge, 14. East Brunswick, 15. Timothy Christian, 16. North Brunswick, and 17. Sayreville.