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.
ELIZABETH, N.J. — Dave Boff, the head coach of Roselle (N.J.) Catholic, helms the best team in the state of New Jersey, with the best player in the state and a slew of future Division I players.
In his only his eighth season as the coach, Roselle Catholic’s meteoric rise under Boff is impressive.
“It’s happened faster than most people would’ve thought,” Boff, whose team opens play Sunday in the Slam Dunk to the Beach event in Delaware, told SNY.tv after his team beat Elizabeth 66-35 on Tuesday. “This was the goal. When we got here this was the goal.”
Boff says that the success his team has experienced is due to the dedication of the coaching staff.
“But we’ve gotten here quickly because some guys came in and joined the staff,” Boff said. “Tom Sacks joined me after my fourth year. JohnGiraldo and I have been here the whole time. But it really took off when coach Tom came in and his attention to detail his energy on defense, his effort to help build the program has really helped us go to the next level.”
Boff was effusive in his praise for Sacks.
“Tom does as much for the program as anybody,” Boff said.
For Sacks, dedication to the program’s ideals are most important.
“The whole thing is, every kid’s gotta know their role,” Sacks told SNY.tv. “If there’s any selfishness anywhere, you can’t play for Roselle Catholic. We’re not gonna have that. We’ll work with you. If you buy into that, you’re in. You’re part of the family. If you’re not part of it, we suggest you go somewhere else and play.”
Roselle Catholic, the fifth-ranked high school program in USA Today’s rankings, has a very difficult schedule ahead of them, with games against St. Anthony’s, The Patrick School, DeMatha, St. Benedict’s Prep, Our Savior New American, and Montverde. Ben Simmons, the LSU-bound No. 1 recruit in the country, plays for Montverde.
Playing a loaded schedule is all part of the plan for Boff.
“We talk to the guys all the time about what the next step that the program can take,” Boff said. “Winning more of these national games, we’ve done well in the state, we’ve been okay on the national stage, we’ve gotta start winning some of the national games.”
RC has a stacked roster that’s the clear favorite for the Tournament of Champions. Isaiah Briscoe, the 13th ranked player on the ESPN 100 and bound for Kentucky, is the best player in the state. South Carolina-bound Chris Silva, the 96th-ranked player on the ESPN 100, is incredibly athletic for a big man. Monmouth-bound Pierre Sarr is lanky and athletic and 2016 players Asante Gist and Matt Bullock round out an incredible top five. In addition, RC boasts 6-9 freshman Naz Reid, who isamong the top players for 2018.
A TOC win, which would be the second in three years, would do wonders for the program. But Boff suggests that the TOC is not the be-all, end-all.
“Another TOC would be really nice,” Boff said. “But first of all you can’t win the TOC now. I tell people all the time. You could have a great team, and suffer an injury and not win the TOC. It’s more about the body of work throughout the season. Hopefully it ends with a championship. But it’s gotta be about the body of work, being consistent in the way that you play.”
While a TOC cannot be won now, the early results on Roselle Catholic suggest that it will be tough to stop them. The team is 3-0 thus far and has yet to be challenged. The rest of the schedule will begin to test that. Given their play so far, it looks like Boff has his team ready.
“We’re just trying to become consistent more on the state level and national level.”
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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.