Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. Patrick of Elizabeth (N.J.) is losing Dexter Strickland to North Carolina and Paris Bennett to George Mason from its Tournament of Champions team, but the Celtics served notice that they will still be the team to beat in New Jersey next year.
The NJ Celtics — featuring Kyrie Irving (pictured), Michael Gilchrist, Derrick Gordon, Kevin Boyle Jr. and Chase Plummer — went 7-0 to win the recent Providence Jam Fast.
The Celtics beat the Mass Rivals in the final after knocking off a Boo Williams team in the semis that included Carolina-bound Kendall Marshall, Duke-bound Andre Dawkins and Georgia Tech commit Travis Mckie (2010).
St. Patrick coach Kevin Boyle said Rob Kennedy of the Hoop Group told him: “I don’t know who Oak Hill and Findlay [Prep] get [next year], but I don’t know a high school team that’s going to be better than you guys.”
Irving, a junior ranked the No. 4 point guard in the Class of 2010, poured in 42 points in a quarterfinal win over the Albany City Rocks.
“In four games he had 150 points ,” Boyle said.
Irving recently cut his list to about a dozen schools and said he planned visits to Texas A&M and Indiana.
Irving told Jody Demling of the Louisville Courier-Journal that he “really liked Indiana a whole lot” and has built a strong relationship with Indiana coach Tom Crean and assistant Roshown McLeod, a former St. Anthony standout.
“When I was at [The Montclair (N.J.) Kimberley Academy)], Coach Crean was at Marquette and they sent me my first big-time letter,” Irving told Demling. “He went to Indiana and the relationship developed from there. They have showed me a lot of support and love.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari also recruited Irving when Cal was at Memphis.
“Not too long ago, I talked to coach Calipariand he said the interest level was the same that it had been at Memphis,” Irving said. “I know that Kentucky is basketball country. I know the fan support is amazing. I want to learn more about it.”
Irving said his goal is to “show people I’m more than a point guard.”
“I want to show people that I can do it all,” he said. “I’ve been working hard on my mid-range game and my overall strength, just working hard every day and giving it my all every time that I work out. I want to be the best I can be.”
VASIL TO BLOOMFIELD TECHFormer Plainfield (N.J.) and Clifton High head coach Pete Vasil has gotten a new coaching gig.
“I just accepted the offer to be the new head coach at Bloomfield Tech,” Vasil said. “Obviously, I’m flattered that they have the confidence in me to accept the challenge of bringing it back to the level that they’re used to being at.”
Vasil has yet to finalize his staff.
“It will be assembled real soon,” Vasil said.
The team returns seniors Kevin Philemon, Asaad Bell, Aaron Gowans and Rashid Sabur, junior Wilson Codey and sophomores Tyrone O’Garro, Corey Winston and Mychal Corbit, among others.
Vasil, 46, resigned from the Plainfield job last June after he was told to re-interview for his job.
Vasil went 63-19 during his three-year tenure at Plainfield, winning two Watchung Conference titles, a sectional final and leading the Cardinals to their first Union County Tournament final in more than two decades. In 2006, he was named the Union County Coach of the Year by the Star-Ledger and the Union County Coaches Association.
Bloomfield Tech became a state power under former coach Nick Mariniello, who is now the head coach at Hudson Catholic.
Mariniello posted a career record of 186-50 during nine years at Bloomfield Tech. He led the Spartans to four Group 1 state titles, two Tournament of Champions finals and one Essex County championship.
“We scrimmaged against Nick’s teams in 2007 and 2008, so I am familiar with some of the players,” Vasil said. “It’s important for the kids to identify that the school has tradition.”
Bloomfield Tech will join the new Essex County Superconference that includes Seton Hall Prep, Science Park, Montclair, Irvington, East Orange, Columbia and Newark East Side.
“I’m very familiar with all of those programs so I’m going to renew those rivalries,” Vasil said. “It will renew a rivalry with Montclair coach Major Jennings from my Clifton days.”
In other Jersey prep news, St. Benedict’s guard Tavon Sledge is transferring, although it remains unclear where he’s headed.
(Photo courtesy MyCentralJersey.com)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.