Phil Anastasia: 2012-13 will be year of the big man

Posted: March 14, 2012

Wanted: Guards.

Needed: Ballhandlers, floor generals, decision makers to lead teams that will have no shortage of top inside players next season in South Jersey boys' basketball.

In a twist, the big men will lead the way in 2012-13, since many of the best teams will return experienced centers and forwards and will rely on inexperienced guards.

Take defending state champion Atlantic City. The Vikings will return 6-foot-8 junior center Jahleem Montague, who will be one of South Jersey's most highly recruited players, along with 6-4 junior forward Ga-briel Chandler and 6-2 junior guard Dayshawn Reynolds.

But the Group 4 champions will need to replace senior lead guard Martel Johnson as well as senior off-guard Kashawn Dunston. That's typical.

Paulsboro will return several top players from this season's 30-1 team that won the South Jersey Group 1 title. The Red Raiders will have a powerful front line led by 6-5 junior swingman Xavier Lundy and 6-8 junior center Julien Davenport along with 6-3 freshman swingmen Theo Holloway and Saleem Little.

But like Atlantic City, Paulsboro will need to replace veteran senior guards. The Red Raiders must develop successors to two-year starters Juwan Alford and Calvin Johnson.

It's happening all over. Paul VI, the two-time Olympic National champion and this year's Non-Public South A finalist, will return three of its top six but will need to replace senior guards Ron Curry and Kris O'Connor.

Eastern, the Olympic American champion and a season-long fixture in the top six of the rankings, will return three of its top eight. But while junior swingman Devon Bell, junior forward Avery Walker, and sophomore center Matt Klinewski will give the Vikings plenty of experience in the paint, the team must develop replacements for seasoned senior guards Jordan Ifill, Brett Knoblauch, and Mike Wilson.

It looks as if 2012-13 could be the season of the big man.

Of South Jersey's top 10 returning scorers, seven are non-guards: 6-5 junior Kyle Green of Camden Catholic (22.7 points per game), Lundy (22.3), 6-8 junior Dominique Reid of Timber Creek (20.1), 6-3 junior GeShawn Davis of Penns Grove (19.2), 6-3 junior Christian Mortellite of Hammonton (18.8), 6-8 freshman Tim Delaney of Pitman (18.5), and 6-3 junior Cedric Elleby of Delsea (17.7).

That's rare.

Montague, Lundy, Green, Reid, and 6-7 junior Amir Maddred of Camden will draw major recruiting interest this spring and summer. Same goes for Delaney as well as 6-8 sophomore Rashaan Armstead of Schalick (15.9 ppg) and 6-5 sophomore Junior Saintel of Holy Spirit.

There should be some top guards next season, with Shawnee returning two veterans in juniors Josh Borrelli and Ryan Bodnar and St. Augustine following the lead of junior Mike Greenman.

Haddonfield will feature freshman guards Nick and Rob DePersia. Cherry Hill East will rely heavily on freshman guard Jake Silpe. Haddon Heights will be led by junior Brandon Joyner (18.8).

Gloucester will return junior Stefano Okoro (20.5). Cherry Hill West is expecting big things from sophomore Rodney Williams (18.9). Medford Tech might have an emerging star in sophomore Elijah Cain (13.7).

But 2012-13 still looks like a big year, in more ways than one.


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, panastasia@phillynews.com, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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