Boys Basketball: North 2 players to watch, 2019-20
North Jersey, Section 2 is always loaded with basketball talent, and the 2018-19 season was certainly no exception. Two representatives from the section - Newark East Side in Group 4 and New Providence in Group 1 - won state championships, and Group 2 West Side reached the final before losing to Haddonfield.
Here are top players to watch in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 in 2019-20.
DJ Alicea, Dayton, Sr., G
Behind Alicea’s prolific scoring and overall leadership, Dayton produced a 17-7 record after three straight losing seasons. He averaged 23.7 points, including a season-high 34 in a 57-51 win over Millburn. He enters 2019-20 with 1,073 career points and just 123 shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader.
Eric Baier, Summit, Sr., G
The 6-3 Baier was dependable as a scorer throughout the season, and outstanding in the state tournament as he averaged 20.6 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games to help Summit (22-7) reach the North 2, Group 3 semifinals. For the season, he averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Jordan Bell, Rahway, Sr., G
The 6-0 guard averaged 6.5 ppg., sinking a season-best 22 points in a victory against Roselle. It was Bell’s first year of varsity basketball after having played JV for Seton Hall Prep as a sophomore.
Christian Cevis, West Morris, Jr., G
The crafty point guard averaged 11.4 points, 6.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 steals to steer the Wolfpack (26-4) to the Morris County Tournament championship and to the North 2, Group 3 final. Cevis scored a season-best 23 points twice and compiled double-digit assists in two games.
Sean Dillon, New Providence, Sr., G
He was the quarterback behind last season’s Group 1 state championship run, the Pioneers’ first since 1999. Dillon, a Seton Hill (Pa.) commit, averaged 11.4 points and 9.0 assists per game, and he began the post-season with two double-doubles and one triple-double, a 17-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound masterpiece that spurred a 61-54 victory against Weehawken.
Jesse Hafemeister, Mendham, Sr., G
The 6-1 Hafemeister knocked down 48, 3-pointers last season and also kept busy closer to the basket by pulling down 6.5 rebounds a game. He connected on a season-high five treys for 30 points to orchestrate a 65-52 upset over archrival West Morris. Hafemeister averaged 15.4 points per game.
Justin Harcourt, Newark University, Sr., F
Though only a sophomore last year, Harcourt emerged as both top scorer and rebounder for 18-6 University. The 6-4 forward averaged 11.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and also 1.9 assists. Harcourt scored a season-high 23 points in a 77-72 victory over Barringer.
Ryan Hillier, West Morris, Sr., F
the 6-4 Hillier was a reliable scorer and rebounder for a largely underclass group that helped West Morris finish 26-4 following three straight sub-.500 seasons. He averaged 14.7 points and 5.6 rebounds, striking for a season-high 32 points and also 12 rebounds to spark a 60-45 win over Hanover Park.
Mikah Johnson, Newark East Side, Sr., G
The versatile Monmouth commit helped East Side (29-5) win the Group 4 state championship and its third consecutive Essex County Tournament crown. Johnson averaged 12.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He netted a team-high 18 points in the Red Raiders’ 69-44 win over Freehold Township in the Group 4 final.
Tyje Kelton, Dunellen, Sr., G/F
With a mix of finesse on the perimeter and power in the lane, Kelton averaged 18.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.2 steals last season for the 20-7 Destroyers. Kelton scored a season-best 31 points and also pulled down 15 rebounds in a 74-45 victory over Timothy Christian. He enters with just under 1,400 career points.
Corey Manning-Floyd, Snyder, 6-5, G/F
Manning-Floyd was a steady scorer in the lane as well as a figure opposing schools wanted to be see much of in the paint at the other end. He averaged 20.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Manning-Floyd produced 14 double-doubles, including a 33-point, 11-rebound outing in a win against Ferris.
Gabriel Olaniyi, Newark East Side, Sr., F
The 6-4 Olaniyi averaged 7.8 points and 2.8 rebounds and showed a capacity to both rebound with authority and strike from 3-point range. He scored a career-high 20 points to fuel a victory over Paterson Eastside.
Jordan Price, Elizabeth, Sr., F
He was a consistent offensive force, rebounder and defender for a team that began the season at 23-0 and finished 26-2. The losses came against powerhouse Patrick School in the Union County Tournament quarterfinal and to Newark East Side (the eventual state champion), 50-48, in the North 2, Group 4 final. Price, a New Haven commit, averaged 15.2 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Karriem Thomas, Irvington, Sr., G
The sharpshooting guard averaged 15.2 ppg for the season and 18.6 over the last six game. The 5-9 Thomas knocked down seven 3-pointers and had a career-high 31 points to lead the blue Knights past Roxbury, 81-53, in the first round of the North 2, Group 3 tournament.
DJ Watkins, Elizabeth, Sr., G
Watkins scored 11.0 points per game and also averaged 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists for the 26-2 Minutemen. He tossed in a season-high 16 points in a 71-57 win over Pleasantville, and scored 14 and 15 points, respectfully, to help Elizabeth defeat Plainfield and Phillipsburg in the first two rounds of the North 2, Group 4 tournament.
Amir Wiliams, Linden, Sr., F
The 6-4 Williams averaged 12.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for a Linden squad that had been hit hard by graduation from the previous season. He produced five double-doubles, including 25 points, 12 rebounds in a victory over Kennebunk (Me.) and 24 points, 16 rebounds in a loss to Roselle Catholic.
Other players to watch:
Lauwensky Astrel, Elizabeth, Jr., F
Tahlee Bailey, Rahway, Sr., F
Eric Baier, Summit, Sr., G
Andrew Bergman, Chatham, Sr., F
Zaid Berry, North Star, Sr., F
Trevor Bokach, Watchung Hills, Jr., F
Ernest Carter III, Rahway, Jr., G
Hector Castro, Belleville, Sr., G
Naseem Cheek, American History, Sr., F
Bakir Cleveland, Newark University, Jr., F
Joe DeLuca, Glen Ridge, Sr., F
Kymani Dunar, Irvington, Sr., g
Jimmy Frage, Colonia, Sr., G
David French, Newark Central, Sr., G
TJ Garrison, Mendham, Sr., G
Tyler Gorczyca, Hackettstown, Sr., G/F
Will Hellings, Summit, Sr., G
Andrew Holmes, Bernards, Jr., G
Nashawn Holmes, Linden, Sr., G
Zaire Jefferson, Payne Tech, Jr., G
Drew Johnson, Dunellen, Jr., G
Jack Leloia, West Morris, Jr., F
Chad Martini, Watchung Hills, Sr., G
Al-Tamir Mayweather, Weequahic, Sr., G
Ibn McLean, Brearley, Sr., G
Hank Morgan, Caldwell, Sr., F
Brian Nichols, Roxbury, Sr., G/F
Daniel Oravbiere, Payne Tech, Sr., F
Keshawn Peterson, Piscataway, Sr., G
Moses Pierre, Irvington, Sr., G
Sincere Robinson, Newark Tech, Jr., F
Griffin Rooney, Westfield, Sr., G
Tyejuan Taylor, Plainfield, Jr., F/G
Joel Uzoka-Simmons, Newark Central, Sr., F
Jarid Verti, Rahway, Sr. G
Corey Walker, Barringer, Jr., G
Anthony Williams, Newark East Side, Sr., G
Jayson Williams, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Sr., F
Yasin Willock, Linden, Sr., C/F
Kyelle Wilson, Dickinson, Sr., F
Brandon Yale, Phillipsburg, Sr., F
Richard Greco, Mike Kinney and Kevin Minnick cover boys basketball for NJ Advance Media. They may be reached at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow them on twitter at @Richard_V_Greco, @MikeKinneyHS and @kminnicksports.