Boys Basketball – 2021 Preview: St. John Vianney
A team that loses five key senior contributors is not always fired up for the following season but St. John Vianney returns for 2021 with a young core that has no designs on easing off the gas pedal following an 18-win 2019-20 season. The Lancers will not be a particularly experienced team but they will be overflowing with athleticism in the backcourt and with enough size and versatility to make a difference around the floor.
Junior Nate Williams is the lone returning starter for St. John Vianney and at 6-foot-4 with guard skills and front-court size at the high-school level, he gives the Lancers an all-around threat around which to build their starting lineup. Kyle Verriest and Antonio Rosato are both sophomore guards and football standouts who will be major factors on the defensive end and can find some points on the other end as well. Rosato missed last basketball season due to injury while Verriest made an impact as a freshman off the bench.
The rest of the lineup will be newcomers, but many of them have the basketball experience to jump right into the rotation. Sophomore Connor Howard and senior Ross Thomas are transfers who will make an immediate impact, while 6-5 freshman Dylan Seay is in line to start and be one of the Shore’s top players in his class from the first day of his first year. Although a young group, Williams gives the Lancers an All-Shore-caliber talent to anchor the roster and the young group around him makes St. John Vianney an up-and-coming team with a chance to do damage this season.
Head Coach: Ryan Finch, fifth season
2019-20 Record: 18-10 (8-6, tied third in Class B North)
2020 Postseason Performance: Reached Shore Conference Tournament round of 16 (lost to Manasquan); reached NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public A quarterfinals (lost to Paul VI)
Disclaimer: Projected lineups listed in the 2021 Shore Sports Network Preview are not necessarily directly from coaches. Some are, while others are projections from Shore Sports Network staff. In either case, the projected lineup is fluid and could change leading up to the start of the season and beyond. Check back for periodic updates to every team's projected starting lineup on shoresportsnetwork.com.
Nate Williams, Jr., 6-4, Guard (RS)
Kyle Verriest, So., 6-0, Guard (R)
Antonio Rosato, So., 5-10, Guard
Connor Howard, So., 6-3, Guard (Transfer from Pine-Richland, Pa.)
Dylan Seay, Fr., 6-5, Forward
Alex Leiba, 6-9, Center
Brian Stuart, 6-3, Guard/Forward
Jahmal Garraway, 5-11, Guard
Kevin Greene, 5-10, Guard
Ryan DiPede, 6-0, Guard
Off the Bench
Ross Thomas, Sr., 6-3, Forward (Transfer from Ocean)
Omar Calderon, Jr., 6-3, Guard
Julian Young, Sr., 6-2, Forward
Justin Coto, Sr., 5-9, Guard
Liam Thomas, Jr., 6-2, Forward
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Nate Williams
As a sophomore on an 18-win team, Williams put up solid all-around numbers (9.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.9 steals) but he and the rest of the Lancers are hoping for a big jump as an all-around player during an abbreviated junior season. Williams has the size, skill and athleticism to impact the game in a lot of ways and with a lot of young players on the roster, St. John Vianney will need its star that has done a little bit of everything to do a little bit more of everything.
Big Shoes to Fill: Kyle Verriest
Verriest goes from a bench-energy guy to a likely starter and while his role won’t necessarily change too much, the Lancers will need his defensive prowess and all-around athleticism to be even more impactful. St. John Vianney lost a standout rim-protector in Alex Leiba, two good offensive guards in Brian Stuart and Jahmal Garraway and a defensive stopper in Ryan DiPede and Verriest will have to help make up for all of it by scoring as a guard and doing his part in keeping opposing guards out of the paint.
Impact Newcomers: Dylan Seay and Connor Howard
In Seay and Howard, St. John Vianney has two incoming underclassmen who offer enough size and skill to make a major impact right away while also helping to lay the foundation for a very promising future – particularly in 2022. The 6-5 Seay can help on the inside and outside with his broad skillset and Howard has a similar profile within the context of this year’s team. Howard played in the Pittsburgh area last year and his family moved back to N.J. for this school year, according to Lancers coach Ryan Finch.
X-Factor: Ross Thomas
Thomas spent his first three high school seasons at Ocean and is looking to make his first varsity impact this season now that he enters the season healthy. At 6-3, Thomas can provide Vianney with some inside play to complement a team that has a lot of players with guard skillsets. Size should not be too much of a problem across the board for Vianney but having a player like Thomas willing to go inside will be a big plus either in the starting lineup or off the bench.
Jan. 27 at Raritan - PPD, TBA
Jan. 29 vs. Raritan - PPD, TBA
Feb. 2 vs. Colts Neck, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4 at Colts Neck, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Trenton Catholic, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 8 vs. Holmdel, 7 p.m.
Feb. 10 at Holmdel, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 13 vs. Point Beach, 1 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Middletown North, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 vs. Middletown North, 7 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Matawan, 6:45 p.m.
Feb. 24 vs. Matawan, 7 p.m.