Boys Basketball – Vote: SSN Week 1 Player of the Week
Each week, Shore Sports Network senior basketball editor Matt Manley will pick the top boys basketball players in each of the six Shore Conference divisions and you, the reader, will have a chance to vote for the top performer as the Seaview Orthopaedic Institute Shore Sports Network Player of the Week. In addition to the six divisional players of the week, there will also be two “wild card” candidates who can come from any of the six divisions.
This week’s candidates are nominated based on their play in the regular-season games to date. Players who performed in holiday tournaments – in this case, the WOBM Classic, the Shore at the Shore Holiday Tournament and the City of Palms – will be eligible for next week’s Player of the Week: Tournament Edition.
Read about this week's candidates and vote at the bottom of the page. Voting will close on Thursday night at 10 p.m. Vote early, vote often and check back Friday morning to find out the first Shore Sports Network Player of the Week of the 2017-18 season.
A North Player of the Week
Stephen Braunstein, CBA
Over CBA’s first three games, Braunstein has averaged just under 20 points and has scored at least 17 in each one. In an 80-64 win over Howell last Tuesday, Braunstein put up 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. He also scored 17 in a loss to Blair Academy and poured in 18 in a 36-point rout of defending A North champion Freehold Township.
A North Honorable Mention: Josh Cohen, CBA; Andrew Abujawdeh, Colts Neck; Alex Ratner, Marlboro; Seth Fields, Neptune; Jared Kimbrough, Neptune
A Central Player of the Week
Ian O’Connor, Rumson-Fair Haven
While the Rumson offense came out flat in each of its first two games, O’Connor has been in midseason form during his team’s 2-0 start. O’Connor scored 23 of the Bulldogs’ 46 points in a season-opening win over Matawan and dropped a team-high 16 in a come-from-behind win at Raritan on Friday.
A Central Honorable Mention: Reggie Tawiah, Matawan; Darnell Rogers, Matawan; Mike Dunne, Matawan; Chris Mikos, St. John Vianney; Zach Mojica, Raritan; Tyrese Bryant, Raritan; Kyle Koob, Shore; Chris Panduri, Shore
Class A South Player of the Week
Jalen Jackson, Brick
In his first four games at Brick, Jackson is averaging 17 points, six assists and 3.75 steals per game. The St. Anthnony transfer posted 20 points and 10 assists in the season-opener against Central and poured in 27 points behind five three-pointers in the next game vs. Jackson Memorial.
A South Honorable Mention: Vin Vecchione, Brick Memorial; Jake Sliazis, Brick Memorial; Thomas Foster, Southern; Najae Hallenback, Toms River North; Travis Holland, Toms River North; Shane Williams, Brick
Class B North Player of the Week
Rob Higgins, Middletown North
Needing 90 points to reach the 1,000-point mark early on his junior year, Higgins took just three games to reach the milestone. After leading the Shore in scoring per game as a sophomore, the Lions guard is averaging 31.3 points per game in Middletown North’s first three games, including a 36-point performance Thursday vs. Ocean to eclipse the milestone. In that game, Higgins erupted for 20 points in the fourth quarter and hit his 1,000th point from the free-throw line.
B North Honorable Mention: Ryan Flanagan, Manasquan; Dave Campbell, Middletown North; Jack Miller, Ocean; Marc Dennis, Long Branch; John Duffy, Red Bank Catholic; Andy Lenneper, Wall; Dave Gervase, Middletown South; Dan Forsman, Monmouth
B Central Player of the Week
Alex Klatsky, Ranney
With most of the attention focused on classmates Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis, Klatsky burned two B Central opponents to open Ranney’s season. He scored 22 points to go with seven assists in an opening-night win over Point Beach and poured in 28 points on six three-pointers in a win over Keansburg the next day.
B Central Honorable Mention: Scottie Lewis, Ranney; Yasin Pretlow, Mater Dei; Kenny Jones, Mater Dei; Trevor Covey, Point Beach; Dave Calloway, St. Rose; Danny Vital, Keansburg
B South Player of the Week
Carl Swensen, Lacey
Swensen looks like one of the breakout performers of the young season. The junior guard averaged 25.7 points in Lacey’s first three divisional games, putting up 30 in a win over Manchester and 28 in a loss to Jackson Liberty. He also scored 19 points in an opening-night loss to Point Boro.
B South Honorable Mention: Anthony Diaz, Pinelands; Connor Costigan, Point Boro; Andrew Schulz, Pinelands; Takai Anderson, Jackson Liberty; Daniel Sofield, Jackson Liberty
Yasin Pretlow, Mater Dei Prep
Pretlow is averaging a solid 15 points over Mater Dei’s first four games, but he saved his biggest game – and his biggest shot – when his team needed them the most. Pretlow scored a game-high 21 points and hit a floater at the buzzer to give the Seraphs a 56-55 win over St. Mary of Elizabeth at the Hoop Group Tip-off Showcase on Dec. 17.
Anthony Diaz, Pinelands
Diaz started the year as a solid contributor by averaging 10 points over the first three games of the season. In the fourth, however, the junior guard exploded for 33 points in a big win over nine-time defending division champion Lakewood – just the second win by Pinelands over Lakewood in program history.