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.
Syracuse-Bound Roberson, Kentucky-Bound Towns Jr. Headline New Jersey TOC
For the first time since 2010, the New Jersey Tournament of Champions does not include Bob Hurley’s storied St. Anthony program.
And the Friars have Syracuse-bound forward Tyler Roberson and Roselle Catholic to thank.
Roberson went for 13 points and 11 boards last Saturday when Roselle Catholic stunned St. Anthony, 48-44, in the Non-Public B state final.
Hurley and St. Anthony had won the TOC 12 times in 24 years and was the two-time defending champ of the event, which includes New Jersey’s six public and private state champs in a single-elimination tournament.
As a result of the big win, Roberson and Roselle Catholic are now the No. 1 seed in the event and will tip off against No. 5 Newark Tech in the semifinals Friday night at Monmouth University.
Kentucky-bound junior big man Karl Towns Jr. and No. 2 St. Joe’s-Metuchen will meet No. 3 Atlantic City in the other semifinal. The 7-foot-1 Towns Jr., Kentucky’s lone commit for 2014, went for 12 points and 5 rebounds when St. Joe’s knocked off St. Peter’s Prep in the Non-Public A final.
In the 24-year history of the event, the No. 1 seed has won 16 times, and the No. 2 seed 5 times.
“We were pleased to get the 1 seed,” RC coach Dave Boff told SNY.tv. “I would not have had any argument if we didn’t get it. All these teams are so talented, to be recognized as the 1 seed is certainly an honor.”
Between Roselle Catholic and St. Joe’s, the two teams feature seven transfers.
In 2012, more than 445 Division 1 college players transferred, and Boff thinks that trend is trickling down to the high school level.
“I think that that trend has somewhat moved down to the high school ranks where parents are looking for the best opportunity for their child and if they don’t see it’s at whatever school they start at, whether it’s athletically or academically or both, they consider other options,” he said.
Among RC’s transfers are Roberson, who came from Union High School before his junior season, and sophomore wing Malachi Richardson, who came from Trenton Catholic.
Richardson now holds offers from Indiana, Ohio State, Georgetown, Rutgers, Seton Hall and others, with interest from Kansas and North Carolina.
Towns Jr., meantime, did not transfer to St. Joe’s. He did reclassify from 2015 to 2014 and then pledged to Kentucky.
In just two years at the school, he has amassed quite a resume.
Towns Jr. has compiled 969 points, 705 rebounds, 278 blocks and 95 3-pointers while amassing a 55-6 record. He has won two Non-Public A state titles and two Middlesex County crowns.
For now, he’s focused on sending seniors Jimbo Long and John Ziemba out on a winning note.
“You develop a bond with these guys on and off the court and you want to send them off into college as winners not as losers,” Towns Jr. said last week. “Right now we’re taking it one game at a time, but for us a lot of our motivation is sending the seniors off right.”
As for Roberson, he will be part of a loaded Syracuse recruiting class next year that has coach Jim Boeheim excited.
“I’m excited about the future,” said Boeheim, whose team faces Georgetown tonight in the Big East Tournament semifinals. “We’ve got one of our better recruiting classes coming. We’ve got commitments from underclassmen that I think are very, very good players.”
For now, though, Roberson, too, wants to just keep playing — and winning.
“I think right now he’s just focusing on taking care of business in the classroom and obviously trying to win the TOC,” Boff said. “I know he’s excited about all the things that are going on with Syracuse going to the ACC and he’s excited to get the chance to compete in that league.”
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONSSemifinalsFridayAt Monmouth University
(3) Atlantic City vs. (2) St. Joseph-Metuchen (26-4), 6
(5) Newark Tech vs. (1) Roselle Catholic (23-4), 8
ChampionshipTuesday, Mar. 19
At Sun National Bank Center, Trenton, 8
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.