Boys Basketball – 2021 Season Preview: Jackson Memorial
Six years ago, Jackson Memorial had a successful head coach who turned the program around, then left his position to take the head job at one of the Shore Conference’s most storied programs. This past fall, karma paid Jackson Memorial back: a championship-winning coach at a tradition-rich Shore Conference program decided to leave his job to coach Jackson Memorial. Randy Holmes left his alma mater Lakewood to take over the Jaguars program, six years after current Neptune head coach Joe Fagan left Jackson to accept one of the Shore’s most prestigious coaching jobs.
Holmes is not likely to completely transform the program this season, but as much as a coach can without so much as playing a scrimmage, he has made a difference. The Jaguars have a deep team full of promising sophomores, two of whom followed Holmes from Lakewood. Samir Padilla and Respect Tyleek were all-division players at Lakewood as freshmen and once eligible, the duo will be part of an exciting back court that also includes returning sophomore Keith Adame.
Sean Slusak could well be the lone senior in the starting lineup once the two Lakewood transfers are cleared and last year, the 6-foot-3 senior emerged as one of the highlights of the Jaguars’ season as the third leading scorer. Seniors Ryan Rankin and Bobby Bamman are both in the running to start while Padilla and Tyleek sit and either would be a factor off the bench. Caden Brooks, Wally Doman and Christian Ibe are three more seniors to contribute off the bench, while junior Steve Bado and sophomore Charlie Meglio are in line to start in the front court – each at 6-4. There are a lot of moving parts for Holmes to settle but the enthusiasm is an early sign Jackson Memorial could be re-emerging as an Ocean County power.
Head Coach: Randy Holmes, first season
2019-20 Record: 9-16 (6-8, tied fourth in Class A South)
2020 Postseason Performance: Did not reach Shore Conference Tournament; lost in NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV first round (South Brunswick)
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.
Keith Adame, So., 6-1, Guard (RS)
Samir Padilla, So., 5-10, Guard (Transfer from Lakewood)
Sean Slusak, Sr., 6-3, Forward (RS)
Charlie Meglio, So., 6-4, Forward
Steve Bado, Jr., 6-4, Forward (R)
Matt Mahala, 6-2, Guard
Ryan Mahala, 5-10, Guard
Nick Colon, 5-9, Guard
Bill Petrina, 5-11, Guard
Off the Bench
Respect Tyleek, So., 6-3, Guard (Transfer from Lakewood)
Ryan Rankin, Sr., 6-2, Forward
Bobby Bamman, Sr., 6-2, Forward
Caden Brooks, Sr., 6-4, Forward (R)
Christian Ibe, Sr., 6-1, Forward
Wally Doman, Sr., 5-9, Forward
Robby Paneque, Jr., 6-1, Forward
Joe Antenucci, So., 6-1, Guard
Lance Adame, Sr., 5-8, Guard
Dominic Grandilli, Sr., 6-1, Forward
George Hanakis, Sr., 5-6, Guard
RS – Returning Starter
R – Returning Varsity Player
Player to Watch: Keith Adame
Despite only being a freshman, Adame showed he could do everything at the varsity level. He was a steady scorer, led the team in assists and also rebounded very well for a guard, giving the Jaguars one of the better building blocks from the Class of 2023 around the Shore. Now that Jackson Memorial has two more of those 2023 backcourt standouts and a coach who has won NJSIAA sectional and Shore Conference championship, Adame and Jackson Memorial could be ready to blow up.
Big Shoes to Fill: Sean Slusak
Slusak doesn’t have too much to prove as far as being a solid varsity starter, which he was and then some last season. Where Slusak will be valuable is as a senior on a team that has enough of them, but none who has led with his play as much as Slusak has. As the best returning senior on the team, Slusak will have to set the tone for Jaguars in order for them to be a breakout team in Holmes’s first year.
Impact Newcomer: Samir Padilla
The earliest Tyleek will be cleared to play will be the middle of the schedule and once he is back on the floor, he will again be one of the Shore’s most dynamic underclassmen. Padilla, meanwhile, could potentially be eligible earlier, according to Holmes, who said he is still awaiting direction from the state via his athletic department about how to handle his 5-10 guard.
X-Factor: The new era
Jackson has athletes, Holmes has turned teams full of athletes into winners and the current athletes in the program have designs on winning. That has this group excited for the season and that enthusiasm will be important for a team that still has a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to get it done to become Ocean County’s top team by the end of February. There is the new style, new system, young players contributing and transfers waiting to become eligible – a lot of moving parts that could move faster if the players are fully bought-in to the new era at Jackson Memorial.
Jan. 26 vs. Brick Memorial, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 at Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 vs. Central, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3 at Central, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 vs. Jackson Liberty, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 vs. Brick, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Brick, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 at Lakewood, 1 p.m.
Feb. 17 vs. Manchester, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 18 vs. Lakewood, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Howell, 3:45 p.m.
Feb. 25 vs. Howell, 5:30 p.m.