Phillip Wheeler helped the Rumson-Fair Haven boys basketball win its second straight NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title as a sophomore this past winter and this coming season, he will try to help a different defending champion win a second consecutive championship.

Wheeler will play for defending Tournament of Champions winner Roselle Catholic this upcoming high school season, according to a post by friend and former Rumson teammate Teddy Sourlis on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Roselle Catholic is set to return two starters and two key bench pieces from last year's No. 1 team in N.J., including rising Class of 2019 guard Kahlil Whitney. The 6-foot-6 Whitney - the son of former Seton Hall standout Kelly Whitney - announced his non-binding verbal commitment to the University of Kentucky on Wednesday.

In line to rejoin Whitney in the 2018-19 Lions rotations are fellow incoming seniors Jason Battle, Josh Pierre-Louis and Colby Rogers - all of whom are best classified as guards.

Roselle Catholic will lose two dominant post players to the SEC as 6-11 Asbury Park native Nazreon Reid prepares for his freshman season at Kentucky and 6-9 Alanzo Frink at the University of South Carolina.

With Whitney and a host of guards back this upcoming season, Wheeler's fit on the roster is not an obvious one, but his talent and potential fit just about anywhere. The 6-7 junior-to-be averaged 8.5 points and 4.3 rebounds off the bench for the Central Group II champions while frequently providing highlight-reel dunks and NBA-range three-pointers.

Wheeler - whose uncle is former Long Branch standout and NBA player Clinton Wheeler - already holds an offer from Seton Hall and will head to Roselle Catholic with the hope of increasing his stock the way Whitney did over the past two calendar years.

Rumson sophomore Phillip Wheeler skies for a first-half dunk. (Photo by Robert Samuels)
Phillip Wheeler in action during his sophomore season at Rumson. (Photo by Robert Samuels)

Whitney showed flashes of potential as a sophomore before landing on the high-major radar heading into his junior season. His profile improved even more over this AAU season and Whitney is currently a consensus top-20 player nationally in the Class of 2019 with a commitment to Kentucky to prove it.

Wheeler's move north deals a blow to Rumson's hopes to repeat as Central Jersey Group II champions, but won't completely sink the Bulldogs. Both Ian O'Connor and Jackson McCarthy will return as seniors, making Rumson a strong contender for a high ranking in the Shore Conference as well as for a third straight sectional title.

With Wheeler leaving the Shore Conference, Ranney's position as the top team in the area looks even more obvious. The defending Shore Conference Tournament champions and the No. 2 team in N.J. to close out the season return five-star recruits Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis while Mater Dei Prep is undergoing a dramatic change in its program and Rumson loses Wheeler.

Roselle Catholic defeated Ranney, 63-61, in last season's Non-Public B championship game and are likely to enter the season as two of the top teams in N.J. once again.


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