Monday, December 29, 2014

A very interesting weekend in local HS and College Hoops around NJ

HS Basketball

We had an opportunity to attend the Playaz Basketball Club Jingle Bells Jubilee at Paterson Charter HS on Saturday Evening.  Paterson Charter is the old Paterson Catholic HS and the games on Saturday were just as exciting as they were when Tim Thomas and Donald Hand led the Cougars into battle many years ago. In fact some of the same fans were in attendance for the games which really were so great we are going back today for the championship. Well, we really need to see a certain player play again because I want to make sure he is what I think he is, The Best Big Player in NY, NJ, or Pennsylvania and he does not attend a private or Catholic HS. More on him later!  

First game I saw was Life Center which is not a NJHSAA sanctioned program against Hudson Catholic HS . Interesting to see Pervis Ellison coaching Life Center.  You folks remember him. The ex NCAA National Championship MVP at Louisville! Or was he the National College Player of the Year? Well, he was very good and had a decent NBA run as well.  Hudson Catholic was coached by Nick Mariniello who has turned into an exceptional coach after many years learning on the job at various schools.  Guy gets his players to compete, runs great offenses, and defenses, wins, and gets kids into college all while looking like a movie star on the sidelines.

Well the game went back and forth with at least 7 or more D1 caliber players on the court. Hudson Catholic won the game despite Life Center having a roster full of D 1 players including Never Nervous Pervis, as they called him years ago, Son Malik Ellison, a 6 ft 6 Sr. guard who could give Isaiah Briscoe a run on the court based on size and ability. This young man has all the tools which is why many super high majors are recruiting him as they did his sister who also plays the game.  SHU, RU, and others need to be all over this young man. Life center has at least 4 other potential big-time recruits as well including a point guard, Traci Carter,  being wooed by the local high major teams after de-committing from The University of Delaware, where he is actually from.  Back to Malik Ellison!  I am really not convinced he is not the best point guard in the state of NJ,  though he currently plays out of position.  Cannot wait till tonight when he plays the consolation game against Teaneck and their great sophomore guard Leandre Washington who also is projected as a high major recruit.

Hudson Catholic also has some terrific players including 6 ft 8 Sammy Friday who could be a mid major or a high major depending on how hard he competes. When he gets after it he looks terrific and when he watches he looks like a good MAAC player at best.  Which Sammy will show tonight against a player with great potential but lacking consistency.   Yes,  I an talking about Shakur Juiston a 6 ft 7 Guard Forward with nice skills and ability.  This kid was nothing short of terrific and if he has grades and could be more consistent he could  go anywhere in America based on what he did on Saturday evening. He was so good I HAVE TO GO BACK TONIGHT to see if he really is as good as he looked or was his performance a one time thing.   I walked out of the gym super impressed at this Paterson Eastside Senior who dunked off the rebound, dunked in traffic, hit the open J, passed very well, understood the game, blocked shots, and sold food at the concession stand at halftime. Tonight will definitely tell the entire story! was his performance something that can be repeated? 

Shout out to Teaneck HS who did a great job despite being so young. I am telling anyone who listens that Teaneck HS will be a state and regional power next season and that does not mean they will not be very good the remainder of this season.  But with super talented guards like sophomore sensation Leondre Washington and Freshmen sensation Ja'Quaye James,   Teaneck has a very bright future and seem very well coached by veteran coach Jerome Smart.  One note is the freshmen needs to stop whining and complaining to the Refs during games!  Calls will not be changed!

Lastly on the organizer Jim Solmon,  and the entire hosting organization. It’s a pleasure supporting a program that does so much for so many people without a lot of corporate sponsors.  This program has sent hundreds of kids to college as well as acted as a conduit for higher education via tournaments and events for many years. A huge thank you also for keeping the price of admission so reasonable at a time others are charging $13 or more for games that are far from competitive. I saw great games on Saturday and was able to stop and eat on the way home.  And thanks for having actual FREE PROGRAMS though we need magnifying glasses to read them (smile).  

College Basketball

Seton Hall won easily over Maine in the type of game that would have been much more of a struggle for past Seton Hall Teams.  Now those with amnesia need to refer back to losses to FDU and similar schools, schools they should never ever lose to never mind winning by a few points.  The win over Maine is supposed to be what happens when a Big East team goes against a team from a lower conference on the East Coast.  In fact it should happen against most lower level conference teams that do not have Wichita State or Gonzaga on the front of the uniforms.  SHU is showing better consistency than they have shown in many years.  The real tests will be St. Johns and Villanova, and not just based on the final outcome, but by the teams approach to the game and level of competitiveness. 

St. Johns destroyed Tulane University just as they should based on all the great talent they did flips and tricks to get on campus.  The days of the local products dominating the roster is officially over with so many kids signing on from places a plane ride away. They really have become a national team by the way they recruit. I know they have worn sneakers for a great cause in the past, but now it seems they also need to wear sneakers for all the running across the country they do to convince players as only they can do to attend SJU.  Right now looking at their schedule it seems they are undefeated.  But the same source, Rivals, had Seton Hall undefeated last week and they had a few losses.  Again the SHU game will be a wonderful test for both teams!

Rutgers wins by a single point at Monmouth! I am telling anyone willing to listen that Monmouth is a true sleeping giant in college basketball on the East Coast.  No way should a Big 10 school win by 1 at Monmouth. Those are the easy games before they play Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, and others who are a hard out every singe night. Those programs put so much money in the basketball programs with private jets, private charters, wonderful facilities, and in many case unlimited recruitment budgets.  Eddie Jordan will only be super successful if he gets the resources. He has a good staff in place including a barracuda recruiter who will get them in doors not only in the USA but also in Europe as well.  I still believe RU will be a wonderful program after recovering from years of program abuse from the inside via a meddling AD and coaches not prepared to handle the stress of big-time basketball at the time.  

FDU info is up!!! They are 4 and 6 after losing the big game to St. Peters on December 23.   I did not see that great CPA James Brown at the Teaneck HS Basketball Game Saturday night to get the full story (smile).  Next 3 games on the road before facing powerful St. Francis of Brooklyn coached by one of the true great people in the game despite being the hardest job, yes even harder that FDU, in the country based on location, campus, and facilities. That’s a home game so I might sneak and purchase a ticket for this one to see just how far they have come as a program.

Back to Monmouth and what a great job that could be!  I really hope the guys there get it together in the near future but that building needs to be ¾ filled every games with winning basketball.  Ditto The University of Delaware, which has a class act coach in Monte Ross but the folks there are still waiting for the next Mike Brey.  Honestly I would bet sometimes Mike Brey wishes he was still there as opposed to the pressure of winning at ND.  But to me these are the two best mid major jobs on the East Coast based on facilities and more!

A bit of a struggle thus far for a great guy in John Dunn over at St. Peters University. But if they know what I know they will get him to sign an extension because he does it with smoking mirrors on a campus two or three blocks long with a big HS gym. In fact maybe  FDU needs to get their coach signed for a few extra years because it sure is not a reflection on him when he has little to work with budget or support wise.  I still wonder if the FDU President knows they have a D1 basketball team? 

Fordham with a super classy staff  really needs more time than 2 more years.  Tom Picora (sp) is one of the best people you will ever meet coaching  college basketball  At a school that frowns on junior college transfers and requires far above average grades to be admitted, they do a great job and worthy of a new 5 year contract from the new AD who hopefully understands the challenges. John Wooden would have had a difficult time. Ditto all the current super star college coaches earning a million dollars plus a year.

Manhattan according to many is the best 4 and 7 team in America. They play extremely hard and do it for 40 minutes a game with no time off to relax.  This is the team people hate to play because they will compete every day and every minute.  No doubt the respect the coach has despite the negative and unnecessary PR from thus past summer.  Manhattan along with Iona remains sexy places to attend if you love playing or watching great basketball. 

Rider 6 and 6 with mirrors lol. Horrible non D1 facilities but very good coaching and hard working student athletes make things work out.  And remember they had a 1st round draft choice to the NBA a few years back meaning he learned to play better after signing with Rider. By the way what happened to the new facility?

LIU is 4 and 7 and that’s about right considering the honeymoon is over and they cannot sneak up on anyone else. I still say the new gym should be called Ray Haskins Field house or Arena based on him taking the Blackbirds to the NCAA and NIT two consecutive years in a row before he was let go in a true unfair way by people who schemed on him. Place was rocking with fans with applications for admission at an all-time high during his time there coaching.

This brings me to the unfair treatment of many coaches. Now we all know there is a lot of cheating going on across the board with players getting paid through an outside source with the coach acting as if he has no idea.  We all know about the transcript stuff at many places. We all know about the Mickey Mouse courses many kids take often completing 4 or 5 years with 25 true credits only to return to the streets or neighborhoods they left as stars without a degree. We all know about the illegal payments by boosters while kids are on campus. So much going on yet if the program is winning no one cares.  So with that said I still look at guys like Gary Waters at Rutgers, Louis Orr at SHU, Ray Haskins at LIU, and current guys like Tom Picora at Fordham, Eddie Jordan at RU, and yes even Kevin Willard at SHU. Oh these guys could have or could do some minor things but not on the scale as others. Yet they are expected to win right away. And in the cases of the first 3 mentioned it has taken years to recover from them departing.  I say all this to say people need to be patient with coaches and not expect an NCAA championship this year. Not at SJU, not at Seton Hall, and yes not at FDU.  Look for improvements and hold the marketing people accountable for butts in the seats just as you hold coaches accountable for wins and losses.  More on this next time!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Today starts the official 2014-2015 version of LFBallonhoops, a basketball blog covering HS and College Basketball in NJ, NY, and even on occasion Northeast Pennsylvania.  This blog is considered by many controversial and extremely opinionated. Truth be told those who believe that are absolutely correct and its something we pride ourselves on. 

This year we are fortunate to have secrete eyes on players, coaches, boosters, supporters and even parents from Pennsylvania to Connecticut. Please note we love telling it like it is and are more interested in the story behind the box score than just reporting who won or lost. This is a blog that will highlight the good, the bad, and even the ugly of HS and College Basketball. Please be aware of the hidden messages and hints as we talk about all thats happening we feel might be of interest to you. 

A huge part of this blog will always be talking about the skills and abilities of many players others give zero or no credit to. Players who just might be better players in college than they were in HS. Players like Ronald Roberts who had a great career at St. Joe's of Philly after St. Johns had him de-comit from his athletic scholarship. Is it only us or could SJU, SHU, and RU not have benefitted from the player he turned out to be.  

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of todays blog please note we are more and more surprised at the large number of foreign players now paying HS basketball in the United States especially the state of New Jersey! Who is paying the tab? Where do they live? How did they get here? Now we sure are not anti providing opportunities but just how serious and how much money is involved when we see so many international players being recruited so that a team can win a HS championship? Amazing  how the  best HS player in America for n2014-15  is actually from Australia and he signed with LSU. LSU? Ummmmmm! Very interesting that they beat out Kentucky and other heavy hitters in many different kind of ways.   

Speaking of Kentucky we need to say we certainly are John Calipari fans. You see he is only doing what the rules as they are written allow him to do. He is smart enough to know how to work the system. We are also fans of him as a person based on the many great deeds he has done for so many away from basketball. Even as the Head Coach at UMass he bussed in young non basketball playing children for special college days to learn about the college experience. This guy, though a true win at all costs guy, has done a lot of good things that many have no idea about!

This season we will talk more about the slick not caring coaches as well as street agents, basketball crooks, and get over artists. We will even give hints about who is cheating and who is getting what for families and friends without saying names. You just have to figure out, and it will not be hard, who is who in the posting.  AAU and Travel team influences? We have it covered and truth be told some who you might think are bad are actually outstanding and some you feel are great are really up to no good. 

So stay tuned and hopefully we can have something for you once or twice a week schedule and news permitting. 

Hoop Group Tipoff  

Before getting into the actual information regarding the games that were held at West Orange HS over the past weekend I have to again ask how or why do they charge $12 and $13 dollars for tickets to a HS  basketball event!  This HS basketball thing is now a huge business and folks are really getting very wealthy. Why be a Doctor or Attorney when you can do basketball stuff and get rich. 

Also interesting that Mike Rice has gotten a second chance getting an opportunity to be a Hoop Group Executive and thats a great thing. I wonder if he is cursing, and throwing balls at little kids as they workout with him.  Interesting how so many who dogged him were  hugging him at the event. Some folks are so phony! But Mike did not seem to have a care in the world and will most likely be back on the college scene very soon screaming and yelling at a place that will not care. 

One of the people who shares information with us was in attendance on Saturday and said the turnout was less than great. The one team that totally impressed him was Gil St. Bernard who actually played without their  best player. Our person feels Gil St. Bernard could be the second best HS Team in NJ. 

On Sunday

Same cast of characters but different year. $13 admission wow!  

Watched the Patrick School who had uniforms with St. Patrick's on the front. St Pats or The Patrick School was  huge with  a few African players. But than again Bergen Catholic has an Italian import Pier Oliva as well and he really is a nice player Watch for him to be a very good college player at St. Joseph's University in time. So many were saying he is overrated and soft, etc. Well,  what we saw was a guy extremely skilled with great basketball IQ.  He actually made every player on his team better by being on the court.  Seems to me Teaneck will not have an easy time winning the Bergen Jamboree. 

Interesting at the game the same Hounds and street agents out in force. Wow do they ever retire? Deals and more taking place with many D1 coaches in attendance getting earfuls from want to be coaches or basketball hustlers. 

Interesting how the African players  on St. Patricks were smiling and happy at opportunities they are getting while home grown kids take so much for granted They seems so happy to be a part of something so organized and good.  

Holland Mack ex Paramus Catholic and D1 College player at either LeHigh or Bucknell  is the current Paramus Catholic Coach. Nice kid but trying too hard to fit in with  guys who  could not care less about him or his program.  When he wins in the future they will embrace him inviting him into their circle. Good luck to him! 

Just watching I had to wonder  why would anyone attend some of these High Schools who are almost like store front schools with great teams? What about the HS experience? 

Bergen Catholic still only 2 or so players of color. Oh well!!! 

Nicholas Richards St Patrick's sophomore has great upside and will be a extremely high level recruit in the furure. Everyone will want that kid who is about 6 ft 8 or 6 ft 9 with toughness and skills!
Watched Newark Eastside ve St. Anthony's.  Newark Eastside is a pretty good HS academically believe it or  not. The team has tradition and the coaches are really doing a nice job. But whats up with the horrible uniforms and appearance taking the court like a rec. team at the local Y with 55 year old men with any old sweats on. Where were the team sneakers and warm-up shirts? Horrible look for some great kids who played so hard in a loss. Of course St. Anthony;s who had 16 players dressed, looked like the top level program they are.   St Anthony;s will always be a great program because they always will play hard and play defense not to mention they are well taught and even better coached.   One question I do have is does Bob Hurley ever sincerely smile at anyone?  Marquis McDuffie  heading to Wichita State. Special. player but on past St. Anthony teams would have been a great role guy but still D1 bound.   

Watched the 1st half of Roselle Catholic vs Blair Academy. Now everyone knows Blair is a ritzy residential boarding school that costs around $40,000 to attend. Their teams are always good and well coached This year they have two good players up front with one signing with Villanova and the other with Notre Dame. Now thats two big-time recruits! Unfortunately the opponent this day was Roselle Catholic led by national top 5 player Isaiah Briscoe and what a player he is. Well worth all the effort Kentucky put into recruiting him. Well worth all they did to get him!!!  This guy is really the next big thing from the Garden State! We would have loved seeing him play with the super Freshmen on his team but due to injury  the freshmen did not play but watching him walk you know he is gifted.   Roselle number 5 or 6  nationally but uniformed like they are number 10000. What's up with  that?  Chris Silver who signed with South Carolina is pretty good and makes me wonder how he was allowed to get away from local high D1 teams? 

NJ Top HS Teams (based on first few games 

1. Roselle Catholic
2. The Patrick School
3..Gil St. Bernard
4. St. Anthony's 
5. Pope John XXiii
6. Trenton Catholic
7. Hudson Catholic
8. Linden
9. Ewing
10 Patterson Eastside

College Information

The college season has been here for a few weeks and some things never change. Tried to get information on FDU from Rivals site and FDU is the only D1 team where the schedule and information is not posted. Did they drop basketball and not send me a notice? Are they now D2? Are they quietly closing down without letting us know? Well, thank God all the other programs have information showing. And yes we plan on attending an FDU game this season as well as many other college games in the area. 

St. Johns seems to be the best team in the area and all they have done to get players seems to be paying off. They are currently 11 and 0 and just might be NCAA bound with players from all over the country. Looking forward to some great battles this year as well as many more great HS players being persuaded to attend school there. Great start and again the hard work has paid off!  

Seton Hall University has a special thing going on. They have only lost two games and one was expected based on it being an away game in the Midwest in a packed arena. But here is where it gets tricky. How will they recover from the Georgia loss? I do feel they will be just fine and with so many young players the future is extremely bright. Now its about preparation and  mental toughness!

Rutgers really has a ways to go but I am sure they can get there with Eddie Jordan.  So much to put inn order from practice facilities to a better arena environment that will attract a certain type basketball recruit. St. Peters loss cannot happen in the future because those are the games a Big 10 team is supposed to win. St. Francis Pa.!  Not supposed to happen! Lots of work to be done here across the board.  Maybe they should not charge folks for tickets this season to start developing a great fan base.  

St. Peters is 4 and 7 and who knows what the  future will hold for them. Not much of a campus especially when kids visit places like Siena, Albany, Binghamton, Manhattan, Fordham, and more. Even FDU is huge in comparison. I still remember the great teams at the Jersey City Armory prior to them building a gym.  Waiting for the huge St. Peters vs FDU game! 

Monmouth is interesting at 5 and 5 and a coaching staff more athletically talented  than the current team led by HC King Rice. Heck of a name King Rice!  Well,  will the King lead them to the promised land? Time will tell but we all know that many hugh D1 Assistants from all over America are watching this program carefully because it could one day be a Gonzaga type program based on facilities, area attractions including beaches, and a potentially large fan base. Guys are drooling for this job! Hope it all comes together for them out in Long Branch! 

NJIT has turned it around as maybe the only independent program in America. The coach needs to get a medal  or at the least an interview for the next mid major opening. Playing in a 1200 seat gym and with kids taking real classes they are really over achieving and moving in he right direction. 

Binghamton made more of a situation than it needed to do years ago and just might never recover as a basketball program. The Coaches should never have been fired years ago!  Not sure if they even care but it was an on the rise program years ago. 

Fordham with a wonderful coaching staff has a hard job. Recruiting kids to Fordham Road and playing in a facility that they attempt to make seem like a version of the Philly Palestra or Cameron Indoor Stadium  but really just an older gym with some renovations. Yet they continue to get kids who want great basketball and great academics. Currently 3 and 6 with a very young team including many international players. But losing to The University of Massachusetts LOWELL? 

Iona really has a very good coaching staff and they seem to get it done year after year after year. Without a doubt this could be a premier program with a larger campus and premier facilities. Someone will eventually snatch the coach up for a higher level program. I would not be surprised if he interviewed for SJU if Steve Lavin ever left. 

Manhattan has a coach who I have watched since he played for  the Gaucho Junior Team many years ago. he always had that swagger. But what happened to the great hair style from years ago? OK thats another post! Manhattan is 4 and 7 and I would bet young Steve as he was called years ago has dreams or nightmares about life in South Florida. He just might be in Riverdale a few more years and that could be a blessing to him and Manhattan College

Please know we have not covered all the area teams and will be adding the others at a later date along with more information on FDU (smile).  The season is now in full swing as is the HS season with so many great games coming up. Lots of recruitment talk and observations from HS events and college games coming your way soon. Stay tuned!

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

NBA Mock Draft

As we get into the meaty part of the college basketball season all sorts of NBA mock drafts are popping up on the internet and even in local papers all over America. It seems as if the experts are continuing to forget the importance of toughness and maturity and making popular as opposed to realistic predictions.  What are they thinking when they take a skinny freshmen guard on a great team and make him a top draft pick over a more seasoned player with much more upside, especially when he gets to the next level surrounded by more players capable of finishing around the rim and hitting open shots? 

So here are my thoughts on this years player’s at this point. Remember it could all change but from what I have seen thus far these are my thoughts on talent and playing potential in the NBA!

Doug McDermott,  in my maybe very unqualified eyes,  has to be the top pick in this years 2014 draft!  What are folks thinking with all those ahead of him on the various draft sites?  These days a player who could be a top draft choice who returns to school will be the focus of every defense scheme teams play against his team.  

Doug McDermott is actually a marked man and the focus of double and triple teaming and still gets his shot off almost scoring at will.  His footwork, ball handling, shooting, passing, basketball intelligence, toughness, strength, and more seems to me to be heads and shoulders over every other college player this season. No I will not compare him to Larry Bird as a Pro because Doug is far more handsome. But skill wise as a collegiate he sure seems as skilled as Larry was at the time.  I am sure Red Auerbach, if he was alive and still with Boston, would be behind the scenes finding out how to get this future star on and off the court!  It just seems that he will be punished for returning to school because he would have been a top 10 selection last season. 

It seems if a player does not run from school after their freshmen year,  their stock automatically goes down. It also seems like international players at 18 and 19 who would be slaughtered in the USA in many cases on the court are taken high in the draft based on potential. Are you kidding me?  Nothing like a 7 ft kid from Russia who is a scrub sitting on the end of the bench based on potential. Well, at least they look good in warm-ups and in the Airport!  

To have the players mentioned on many mock draft boards ahead of Doug McDermott is nothing short of ridiculous.  In fact I think the 2nd player chosen should be a sophomore. Yes,  Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State should be 2nd because he is the total package as well. Tough, skilled, confident, unselfish and more!

Leadership wise no way Kyle Anderson should not be a top 10 pick. I love Tyler Ennis on and off the court because he seems like a great player and even better person. But how in heavens name is he ranked higher than a more mature, skilled, leader and player such as Kyle Anderson? It all boils down to people with no idea or even playing or coaching experience putting together these lists. Same way on many HS recruiting lists the rankings have always been suspect at best. 

So here is my 2014 Mock NBA Draft top 11 TALENT Wise and NBA Ready list with a few sleepers!  Granted there are some with more potential but still unproven..  If I was choosing strictly based on talent and readiness this would be my list! 

1        Doug McDermott         Creighton
2    Marcus Smart               Oklahoma State
3       Jabari Parker                 Duke
4       Joel Embiid                   Kansas
5     Andrew Wiggins          Kansas
     TJ Warren                    NC State
     Gary Harris                  Michigan State
     Kyle Anderson             UCLA
     Julius Randall               Kentucky
1    Aaron Gordon              Arizona
1     CJ Fair                         Syracuse

Sleepers (In No Order)

Russ Smith                     Louisville
LaQuinton Ross             Ohio State
James McAdoo              North Carolina
Bryce Cotton                  Providence
Noah Vonleh                  Indiana
Jerami Grant                   Syracuse