Boys Basketball – 2016-17 All-Shore Teams
Shore Sports Network All-Shore Boys Basketball Team
Selected by Staff Writer Matt Manley
Bryan Antoine, So., Guard, Ranney – Shore Sports Network Player of the Year
Key Stats: 21 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 3.7 steals, 81.9 % FT percentage, 58 3-pointers
Signature Game: Antoine entered Ranney’s Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinal against Middletown North with a chance to make history for himself and for his team. The sophomore delivered with a season-high 33 points – including the 1,000th of his career – to lead the Panthers to their first ever SCT semifinal appearance. Antoine is the first Shore Conference boys player to reach 1,000 points as a sophomore.
Rather than follow up one of the best freshman seasons the Shore has seen in a long time by trying to do more, Antoine came back as a sophomore looking to do a little less – at least when it came to having the ball in his hands. As a sophomore, Antoine took fewer shots per game, had the ball in his hands less than he did a year ago, and yet he still averaged slightly more points per game. More importantly Ranney was a more well-rounded team on offense and without having to expend so much energy on that end of the floor, Antoine could take over games late, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
That was Antoine’s formula in back-to-back games against St. Anthony and Mater Dei on Jan. 10 and 12, respectively. He started slow offensively in both games and took over down the stretch of both. It was not enough to lead Ranney over St. Anthony but it was indeed enough against the Shore Conference champions. Antoine scored 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to carry the Panthers to a 58-56 win – the first for the all-sophomore lineup against its B Central rival. He later showed off his marksmanship by scoring 26 points on 10-for-10 shooting from the field in a win over St. Rose.
During the postseason, Antoine averaged 24.2 points, including the 33-point performance against Middletown North in the SCT quarterfinals, when he became the first sophomore in Shore Conference history to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. Antoine then capped his season with a 21-point effort against Patrick School – the eventual Tournament of Champions winner – in a 10-point Ranney loss.
Antoine is gearing up for a big summer with respect to his college recruitment, which is still relatively wide-open with suitors ranging from the locals like Rutgers and Seton Hall to national programs like Kansas and Kentucky. He will enter his junior season with 1,105 career points, putting Antoine in position to become the first Shore Conference player to reach the 2,000-point mark since Central’s Jermaine Clay in 1990 and perhaps even challenge the all-time Shore mark of 2,302 set by Norman Caldwell of now-defunct Cordon Hall.
Elijah Barnes, Sr., Forward, Mater Dei Prep
Key Stats: 15.2 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 29 3-pointers
Signature Game: With his team in a dogfight in the SCT semifinals against Toms River North, Barnes stepped up in a big way with a huge dunk on the front end of a three-point play and a key block on the next possession. He finished the game with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
It has been about a decade since a senior at the Shore finished his career with Shore Conference Tournament titles in each of his last two seasons, which is what Barnes and teammate Elijah Mitchell can boast after leading the Seraphs to their second consecutive SCT title this past season. Barnes began his high school career at Freehold Borough with obvious potential and his game steadily improved over his four years at Freehold, Central Regional and Mater Dei. This past year, it reached the next level as Barnes dominated games inside the paint on both ends and improved both his mid-range game, his three-point shooting and his footwork.
Statistically speaking, Barnes turned in another strong year with 15 points, seven boards and just short of two blocks per game, but those were numbers that could very well have been higher on another team. The 6-6 senior has bought into the team concept during his time at Mater Dei and the Seraphs have plenty of weapons around Barnes. Still, Barnes was the go-to guy in nearly every big spot this season. He carried the Seraphs past Toms River North in the aforementioned SCT semifinal, put up 41 points in two games against Ranney, including 21 in the Seraphs’ road win over the Panthers, and hit a game-winning jumper in the final seconds to beat Holy Trinity of N.Y.
Barnes’s senior season came to a premature end when he broke a bone in his right forearm in a state tournament win over Gloucester Catholic in the first round of the South Jersey Non-Public B playoffs. Mater Dei lost its next game to Tournament of Champions winner Patrick School, which ended a 16-game winning streak by the Seraphs. Barnes will heal up and head to Princeton University next year to play for a Tigers team that reached the NCAA Tournament this season. He finished his high school career with 1,032 points.
Scottie Lewis, So., Forward, Ranney
Key Stats: 16.3 points per game, 7.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 2 blocks
Signature Game: Lewis turned in a career performance on Jan. 6 against Rutgers Prep with 34 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in an overtime win and also posted a triple-double (12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks) four days later in a loss to St. Anthony.
Lost in the highlight-reel dunks, thunderous blocked shots and the next-level look that Lewis projects is a player with a high basketball I.Q. – particularly on the defensive end – who has proven he can play within the framework of a team. Those qualities won Lewis the prestigious Kerwin Award, a rare feat as for a sophomore and an unprecedented one for a player from the Ranney School. Lewis’s ability was also reflected in a well-rounded stat-line that included 16 points, nearly eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game.
Those who flock to watch Ranney play might expect to watch Lewis dominate on the offensive end and on many days, that is what those people would have seen. His 34-point outing against Rutgers Prep in January was the most complete game of his young high school career, and he later put up 23 in a loss to Mater Dei Prep. More than likely, however, Lewis was filling up the stat sheet and keeping the opposition away from the rim. Against St. Anthony, he posted his first career triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebound and 10 blocks and against Middletown North in the SCT quarterfinals, Lewis had 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots. His block totals might have been even more robust, but like a great cornerback in football, he was as effective as a deterrent as he was at actually getting his hands on the ball on defense.
Like his teammate, Antoine, Lewis will see his recruitment heat up over the summer as some of the top programs in the country look to win his commitment. As for his high school career, Lewis will enter his junior season 163 points shy of the 1,000-point mark as part of a Ranney roster that will enter 2017-18 with Tournament of Champions aspirations.
Jaden Rhoden, Sr., Forward, Toms River North
Key Stats: 15.8 points per game, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 2.9 steals, 1.1 blocks
Signature Game: With his team one win away from reaching the program’s first ever sectional final, Rhoden turned in 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists to lead the Mariners to a win over Cherokee in the South Jersey Group IV final.
Toms River North was already a Class A South champion and a Shore Conference Tournament semifinalist twice in a three-year stretch before Rhoden joined the program in 2015-16, but the program reached new heights once the versatile, athletic, 6-3 wing came over from Central Regional. During Rhoden’s two seasons as a Mariner, Toms River North went a combined 51-8 overall and 28-0 in Class A North, while Rhoden eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career and ended up at 1,167.
This past season, Rhoden and his team both reached the peak of their respective performances. Rhoden checked in among the Shore Conference leaders in points (23rd), rebounds (third), assists (15th) and steals (11th) – the only player other than Ranney’s Scottie Lewis to rank in the top 25 in four of the five major counting-stat categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks). Toms River North, meanwhile, won a school record 28 games, extended its winning streak within Class A South play to 32 games, reached the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals for the third straight year and fourth time in five years, and reached the South Jersey Group IV championship game for the first time ever.
Rhoden was at his best late in the season, when Toms River North began to dominate the competition en route to its best postseason showing ever. In seven games between the Shore Conference and South Jersey Group IV Tournaments, Rhoden averaged 18.1 points, 10 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals, including 20.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, four assists and 3.3 steals in the state tournament. In a triple-overtime loss to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group IV final, Rhoden put up 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists – the last of seven games in which he recorded at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. In total, Rhoden posted 17 double-doubles, including 10 straight from Jan. 14 to Feb. 19.
Rhoden has garnered some interest from Division II and low Division I basketball programs, but is also being pursued as a jumper in track and field. He already has a track and field offer from George Mason, according to Toms River North coach Rory Caswell.
Devin Jensen, Sr., Guard/Forward, Manasquan
Key Stats: 21.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals, 74.1 % FT percentage, 91 3-pointers
Signature Game: Jensen began the season on a tear and his peak performance of that stretch was a 38-point outburst in a win over fellow B North co-champ Red Bank Catholic – a mark Jensen reached despite sitting for the final five minutes of the lopsided Manasquan win. One game earlier, he scored 37 points in three quarters against Lacey and made it three straight 30-plus-point games with 31 points in a loss to Long Branch.
Like so many Manasquan standouts before him, Jensen played a more defined role as a sophomore and junior while there were more established seniors on the roster and enjoyed an individual breakout as a senior. The 6-foot-4 senior swingman was an outside shooting threat on Manasquan’s 2015-16 team and he remained an outside threat as a senior, as evidenced by his 91 three-pointers this past year, but added a whole lot more to his game. Jensen scored from all over the floor and finished second in the Shore Conference with 21.9 points per game for a Warriors team that won a share of the Class B North title – the fifth straight that Manasquan has won at least a share of a division championship.
Jensen began his senior year on a tear that included three consecutive games with 31 points or more. He exploded for 37 in just three quarters in Manasquan’s rout of Lacey in the first round of the WOBM Christmas Classic and in the next game, put up a career-high 38 points in a little more than three quarters in a lopsided win over fellow B North co-champion Red Bank Catholic, and scored 31 in a loss to Long Branch. He scored at least 30 points twice more during the season, including again against Long Branch – a 33-point effort in a 20-point Manasquan win.
Jensen entered the season with 415 career points, making him somewhat of a longshot to reach the 1,000-point mark – which his older brother, Ryan, pointed out to him. Ryan reached the 1,000-point milestone as a senior last season and thought it unlikely that his brother join him in that club, but Devin scored a Shore-best 636 points in his senior year to finish up his career with 1,051. Jensen reached the mark in a Central Jersey Group II first-round win over Robbinsville in which he scored 29 points. On the heels of a big senior season, Jensen will head to Merrimack College in the fall to play basketball.
Rob Higgins, So., Guard, Middletown North
Key Stats: 22.9 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2 steals, 81% FT percentage, 55 3-pointers
Signature Game: Rivalry games bring out the best in great players and Higgins relished a chance to go off on crosstown rival Middletown South on Feb. 2. The sophomore scored 41 points – a single-game best in the Shore Conference this year – and added nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Lions to a win over the Eagles.
If not for Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis at Ranney, Higgins might not only be the most celebrated sophomore in the Shore Conference but he might be on his way to authoring one of the most celebrated careers in the history of the conference. Through two seasons, Higgins has already scored 910 points and that is despite missing five games this season due to injury. A wrist ailment kept him out of action during the early part of the year but Higgins came back and showed no ill effects – in fact, he was even better. The sophomore went on to lead the Shore Conference in per-game scoring at 22.9 points per game.
Within that nearly-23 points per-game was the best scoring game in the Shore Conference this season – the 41-point outburst against rival Middletown South. While that was Higgins’s best performance of the season, it certainly was not his only noteworthy outing. He also scored 30 points against Group IV power Newark East Side in a Middletown North loss and also had a 34-point game against Toms River East in between the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments.
Higgins’s most noteworthy outing may have come in the Lions’ Shore Conference Tournament win over Colts Neck. The game was not the highest-scoring effort for Higgins, but he scored 25 points just two days after walking away from a one-car accident without more than a scratch on his arm despite the fact that his Jeep flipped over. Higgins is already 17 years-old despite being a sophomore, but still has two varsity seasons left to continue to add to his remarkable start.
Ahmadu Sarnor, So., Guard, Ranney
A transfer from Collegium Charter in Pa., Sarnor turned to be just what Ranney needed to take the next step this season under second-year coach Tahj Holden. He gave the Panthers an all-sophomore starting five and an athletic guard who could handle the ball, get into the lane and defend the ball, while also putting up numbers in big games. He scored his career-high in the last game of the season – a 28-point effort in a loss to the No. 1 team in the state, the Patrick School. Sarnor finished up the year averaging 15.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
Steve Staklinski, Sr., Forward, Freehold Township
Despite losing its two leading scorers from last year’s Central Jersey Group IV finalist – including an All-Shore point guard – Freehold Township posted one of its best ever overall records (26-3) while again reaching a sectional final for a third straight year. While the Patriots embodied the team concept as much as any team, Staklinski was still the star on most nights. The 6-5 senior averaged 16 points and seven rebounds while also performing well in the postseason. Staklinski averaged 17.5 points during both the Shore Conference and NJSIAA Tournaments. He scored 20 of Freehold Township’s 39 points in a sectional final loss to Hunterdon Central, while his best regular-season outing was a 37-point game against Manalapan that set a new career mark for Staklinski.
Kenny Jones, Jr., Guard, Mater Dei Prep
It’s widely accepted that a great point guard can make other players around him better and that applies to Jones. It can also work in the other direction as well, as Jones showed when teammate Kyle Cardaci became eligible in mid-January. With Cardaci in the lineup, Jones averaged more than two assists more per game, which helped him ascend to fourth in the Shore Conference at 5.7 per game. As the point guard on the Shore Conference Tournament champions, Jones was second on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game and also ripped off 2.4 steals per game as well. Jones is getting plenty of Division I interest and has already picked up an offer from Monmouth.
Jared Kimbrough, Jr., Forward/Center, Neptune
Neptune endured another up-and-down season as a team, but Kimbrough brought an element of consistency on a nightly basis during what can only be described as a breakout season for the 6-6 junior. He led Neptune in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and was among the leaders in the Shore Conference in all three categories as well. His 14.7 points per game placed him 28th in the conference, while his 11.8 rebounds and even three blocks both ranked second. Although the Scarlet Fliers bowed out of the Central Jersey Group III playoffs at home in the quarterfinal round to Lawrence, Kimbrough went out with a bang. He put up an eye-popping line that included 25 points, 18 rebounds and nine blocks in the overtime loss. Kimbrough will try to carry that momentum into the summer as he continues to get Division I looks
Danny Frauenheim, Jr., Guard, Point Pleasant Beach
While Point Beach alumni Matt Farrell thrived as the point guard at Notre Dame this past year, Frauenheim took over the position once occupied by Farrell at Point Beach and did a mighty fine impersonation of the former Player of the Year. The 5-10 junior finished in the top 20 of the Shore with 16.2 points per game and was No. 1 with 7.4 assists. Frauenheim put his best foot forward at the Hoop Group Boardwalk Classic, where he scored a season-high 27 points in a win over Manasquan. He also racked up 12 assists in a win over Union in December. Frauenheim will enter his junior season 168 points away from 1,000 for his career and with 363 career assists, he is within shouting distance of Farrell’s career record.
P.J. Ringel, Sr., Guard, Marlboro
It would be hard to fit Ringel’s entire senior year into a book, much less a single capsule. He was an All-Shore soccer player who suffered through a great loss when his father died in a car accident on the day before the state tournament began. He then led Marlboro on an emotional run to a sectional final and soared into basketball season, only to break a bone in his left hand and miss the first nine games of the season. Once back, however, Ringel settled in and captained the Mustangs to, arguably, the best season in program history. Marlboro reached the Shore Conference Tournament final for the first time ever and Ringel was the igniter both as the point guard on offense and as hound on the defensive end. His 4.3 steals per game were easily the most in the Shore Conference and that went with 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and three assists. Ringel has received interest as both a soccer and basketball player, including from the College of New Jersey as both.
Jack Solano, Jr., Guard, Rumson-Fair Haven
On any given night, any of four Rumson-Fair Haven players could have led the team scoring – and for the week or so that Elijah McAllister was able to play, it was any of five. The Bulldogs went 24-3 this year by beating teams from all angles, which makes zeroing in on one of their players for an individual postseason accolade. Solano was voted the Class A Central Player of the Year by the coaches and finished second on the team with 13.5 points per game, including a huge 34-point performance in the Central Jersey Group II semifinals against Manasquan in an overtime win for the Bulldogs. Senior Tyler Pierson and junior Teddy Sourlis were also worthy of representing Rumson on the All-Shore team and sophomore Ian O’Connor had flashes of brilliance as well.
Elijah Mitchell, Sr., Forward, Mater Dei Prep
There probably is not a better example of a player that puts winning over individual glory than Mitchell, which would explain why Mater Dei has a pair of SCT championships in his two seasons at the school. The senior is the only player on this year’s team to play with coach Ben Gamble for three seasons (the first at Cardinal McCarrick) and he embraced his role as a defensive stopper and a pass-first forward in both of his Mater Dei seasons. Mitchell averaged 8.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals for the season and stepped up in the SCT final with 12 points and three steals to earn game MVP honors. Mitchell is generating some Division II and III interest and has an offer from Dominican College in N.Y.
Adi Palmer, Sr., Forward, Lakewood
After Lakewood graduated one 1,000-point scorer (Amir Tyler) and another near-1,000-point scorer (Sean Barksdale) from last year’s team, Palmer was the lone senior with starting experience returning for the Piners and he carried his team throughout the season. Palmer put up 18 points per game to go with 6.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and two steals while leading Lakewood to a seventh straight outright division title. Palmer’s career night came in a win at Manchester in which he poured in 33 points with five three-pointers while also handing out five assists. Palmer is a two-sport standout at Lakewood and is drawing the most interest at the college level in football.
L.J. Robinson, Sr., Guard, Manchester
Manchester endured a difficult season after graduating three integral starters from last year’s team, but Robinson was still one of the top talents in the Shore and carried his team to a handful of big wins while facing every ounce of defensive attention that opponents could throw at him. The 6-foot-6 swingman averaged 19.5 points per game, good for fifth in the Shore Conference, and his 495 total points were the fourth-highest total at the Shore. Robinson also hauled in six rebounds, handed out three assists and swiped 2.3 steals per game and also showed off his range at 6-6 with 50 three-pointers while also hitting 80 percent of his free throws. Robinson was also the first Shore Conference player to reach the 1,000-point mark this season.
Mike Nyisztor, Sr., Guard, Toms River North
One of two 1,000-point scorers on the Toms River North team, Nyisztor began his four-year varsity career as a three-point ace and quickly turned into one of the better two-way wing players in the conference thanks to his athleticism at 6-foot-2. Nyisztor averaged 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 steals and was a central figure in an underrated Toms River North defense that forced a slew of turnovers and gave up more points than most great defenses because of the pace at which the Mariners preferred to play. Nyisztor’s high mark for the season with 25 points in a win over Toms River South and he also hit six three-pointers for 18 points in a 79-35 rout of Rumson-Fair Haven in the SCT quarterfinals. Nyisztor is also one of the top shortstops in the state on the baseball field and will play on the diamond in college at Rutgers.
Maks Gruszecki, Sr., Guard, Central
As a sophomore, Gruszecki was on the same roster as first-teamers Jaden Rhoden and Elijah Barnes and Central appeared to be primed for a monster year in 2016-17 until Barnes and Rhoden left the program. Even without the two All-Shore players, Central won 22 games behind Gruszecki, a 1,000-point scorer who finished sixth in the Shore Conference with 18.3 points per game. The 6-1 combo guard also handed out 3.4 assists, picked off 2.9 steals per game and was the fourth-best free-throw shooter in the conference at just a hair under 84 percent. Central’s 22 wins were a school record and the Golden Eagles won a game each in the Shore Conference and South Jersey Group III Tournaments, and Gruszecki helped get them to the SCT round of 16 by scoring 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in a come-from-behind win over Barnegat. He also scored his 1,000th point in that SCT win. Gruszecki plans to attend Rutgers University next year to study engineering.