Boys Basketball – Manasquan’s Darius Adams Leads SSN All-Freshman Honors
Darius Adams entered the No. 1 boys basketball program at the Shore over the past two seasons expecting to learn from the best and he did. His senior teammate during his first high school season was Ben Roy, the two-time Shore Sports Network Player of the Year who led Manasquan to back-to-back Shore Conference championships in 2020 and 2021.
There was an unexpected catch, though: Adams expected to learn with Roy out on the floor with him, not with Roy relegated to the sidelines due to a torn ACL.
With Roy unable to play in his senior season, Adams took over as Manasquan’s go-to scorer while still playing within a system that saw all five Warriors starters thrive. The result was a breakout season for Adams and, more importantly, a 25-win season for Manasquan that included a return trip to the Shore Conference Tournament final and a third consecutive NJSIAA sectional championship.
In delivering on all the expectations -- Adams is also the younger brother of former Manchester star and current North Carolina freshman Destiny Adams -- and picking up the slack in Roy's absence, Adams is the first Shore Sports Network Freshman of the Year.
In his freshman season, Adams took over as Manasquan’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game and did so on a team with five new starters, including four underclassmen. He hit the 20-point mark 10 times during the course of the season and his season-high of 26 points came in, arguably, Manasquan’s biggest win of the season: a victory over top-seeded Red Bank Catholic in the Shore Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
Speaking of tournament performances, Adams raised his game for the stretch run to help his team advance deep into both the conference and state tournaments. The 6-foot-2 freshman averaged 16.4 points over 10 postseason games, and that includes a six-point game against Steinert in the NJSIAA Group III opening round, which Manasquan won 81-16 and pulled its starters for much of the game.
Adams also progressed on the defensive end, becoming a lockdown perimeter defender along with classmate Griffin Linstra and sophomore teammate Ryan Frauenheim.
Roy broke into high school with a much older team surrounding him, but it is still worth mentioning that Adams averaged 4.5 points more than Roy did as a freshman. By the time Roy was at the end of his junior season, he had well over 1,000 points and would have been on his way to breaking Manasquan’s all-time scoring record had he been healthy enough to play in 2021-22.
That leaves Adams to take the torch from Roy and he will have plenty of help around him over the next two seasons, with Frauenheim, Linstra and current sophomore Alex Konov all set to return to the starting lineup. Coach Andrew Bilodeau and his staff did standout job incorporating the five new starters – the other being senior returnee Matt Solomon – into the system and getting them to play an unselfish, up-tempo game that netted a 25-6 record with division and sectional championships, not to mention a fourth straight appearance in the Shore Conference final.
Tying it all together, though, is Adams, who showed over and over again that he can break down the defense or bury a deep three-pointer if the play ever breaks down. Manasquan is set to be a force for the next three years and Adams has a chance to be the next great Shore Conference scorer and win a lot of big games in the process.
Shore Conference 2021-22 All-Freshman Team
Freshman of the Year: Darius Adams, Manasquan
Griffin Linstra, Manasquan
Evan Romano, Holmdel
Zayier Dean, Ocean
Justin Fuerbacher, Christian Brothers Academy
Ryan Prior, Red Bank Catholic
Honorable Mention: Chauncy Brown, Matawan; Nick Cardone, Freehold Twp.; James Curley, Monmouth; Jayden Elijah, Matawan; Jack Fitzpatrick, Henry Hudson; Nahsirr Hart, Keyport; Johnnel Johnson, Barnegat; Zy’Mier Jones, Asbury Park; Mason Krey, Barnegat; Ron Richardson, Ocean; Jaycen Santucci, Central; James Sobieski, Ocean; Brian Tassey, Freehold Boro; MeSean Williams, Ranney