Five years ago, Point Beach boys basketball coach Nick Catania was trying to tell any college coach from a power conference who would listen that he had a point guard who would make their program very happy if they would just give him a chance.

At the time, Matt Farrell was considered undersized as a 6-foot junior and projected to be more of a mid-major recruit at best. As a senior with the Garnet Gulls, his stock rose dramatically throughout his final season to the point where he landed at Notre Dame, where he has become arguably the top point guard in the nation's premier conference as a junior.

Point Beach junior Danny Frauenheim has learned from one of the best in former Garnet Gulls star and current Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell. (Photo by Ray Richardson)

While Catania is not trying to saddle current Garnet Gulls junior point guard Danny Frauenheim with the expectations of becoming the next Matt Farrell, he finds himself making many comparisons when talking about him to college coaches.

"In my opinion, (Frauenheim) is a Division I player,'' Catania said. "Talking to coaches about him, it's the same conversations I was having about Matt as a junior. He's smart, he's tough, he wins, and you'll sleep well at night if he's your point guard at the college level. That's what you try to get across to people."

This winter has been a breakout season for the 5-foot-10 junior now that he has assumed the full-time point guard duties after splitting those last season with standout combo guard Jimmy Panzini, who is now at Lafayette. Frauenheim leads the team in scoring at 16 per game and leads the Shore Conference at just under 10 assists per game.

"He's just more confident,'' Catania said. "He's a leader. He has a super-high IQ. This is his team, and he's really taken to that role."

Frauenheim has seen varsity minutes since his freshman season after watching Farrell run the point as the Garnet Gulls won their first Shore Conference Tournament and NJSIAA Group I titles during his career.

"I take away a little bit of everything (from Farrell), but mostly leadership,'' Frauenheim said. "Losing a couple seniors from last year, I really wanted to step up and be a vocal leader this season."

Frauenheim has also been able to become Point Beach's primary scorer while continuing to distribute to his teammates at a high rate. He poured in a career-high 27 points in a win over Manasquan during the Boardwalk Showcase, while also dishing out a career-high 15 assists in a quality nonconference win over Union earlier this month.

"(Helping out with the scoring) is something we're constantly in his ear about, but he's so unselfish,'' Catania said.

"It's just from working hard in the summer,'' Frauenheim said. "Coach does a lot of stuff with us, and it's just putting in the time and it's paying off."

What also helps is that not only has Frauenheim learned from watching Farrell from afar, but also working directly with him.

"In summer workouts, he's there with us,'' Frauenheim said. "I try to emulate him and learn as much as I can from him."

Watching Frauenheim step through traps, push the ball in the open floor, go hard to the rim, and play hard-nosed defense against taller opponents like Manasquan scoring machine Devin Jensen, it's hard not to see some eerie similarities with Farrell at the same age.

"That's his guy, no question,'' Catania said.

"I really liked how (Farrell) controlled the ball,'' Frauenheim said. "No one pressured him because they respected his ball-handling, so I saw that and was like, 'I need to work on my ball-handling and take that aspect of my game and make it better."

The Garnet Gulls (9-3) have suffered consecutive nail-biting losses to unbeaten Rumson and defending SCT champion Mater Dei Prep after a nine-game winning streak, but have showed they should be a factor come tournament time. Frauenheim is part of a strong junior core that includes guard Josh Yates, 6-foot-4 forward Trevor Covey, 6-foot-5 Stephen Flanders and 7-footer Jake Lorenzo.

After a blowout loss to the state-ranked Seraphs in the season opener, they took them to the wire in a 45-40 setback on Tuesday in which Frauenheim had a team-high 16 points against Mater Dei's talented backcourt.

Frauenheim has already been up on campus at Army and also has interest from Colgate, but no Division I offers yet. Catania hopes he can follow a similar trajectory to Farrell as far as increasing attention from colleges with every performance.

"I think it would be easier (for him to generate interest) after what Matt has done (at Notre Dame),'' Catania said. "He's the consummate point guard."

Not only does Frauenheim's game echo parts of Farrell's as a junior, so does his focus.

"I'm not really looking at the college stuff right now,'' he said. "I'm just focused on the high school season and trying to win a championship for my team."


Twitter: @Scott_Stump