2024 Metro Classic Preview
Photo by: Anthony Ferrara
Every year, we get multiple tournaments that feature some of the best teams and players in all of high school basketball. But very few of them compare to the annual Metro Classic, where we not only get to see the best in the country, but also the best in New Jersey. Today will be the start of a four day action packed competition between various teams who will be looking to prove themselves. Here are some players and teams to keep a look at that during the entirety of the tournament.
Cooper Flagg and Montverde Academy
If you don’t know the name Cooper Flagg, then you should know that he is nothing short of a generational talent. Standing at 6’10, Flagg can do anything on the court whether on the offensive end or the defensive end. Averaging 16.8 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks per game, Flagg is recognized around the country as not only the number one player, but also the most dominant force in high school basketball. With the amount of talent Flagg has, it only adds to the overall dominance Montverde has as a team. With another dominant force like Derik Queen and a pure point guard like Robert Wright III, Montverde will definitely catch a lot of eyes in their return to Jersey.
VJ Edgecombe and Long Island Lutheran
It is safe to say that VJ Edgecombe is arguably the best athlete in the 2024 class. With eye popping leaping ability and great speed, Edgecombe is an automatic bucket when he is in transition. Combined with the fact that he is a good shooter and a capable defender, Edgecombe checks all of the boxes if you are looking at a top guard in this year’s senior class. As for the rest of the Long Island Lutheran squad, they possess a backcourt that can compete with any team in the country. With Kiyan Anthony emerging as a rising star in the junior class and the tenacity of Nigel James and Kayden Mingo, Long Island can beat any team that they face. It will be exciting to see them in action this coming weekend.
Ian Jackson and OSL/Jellyfam
With Ian Jackson and OSL being a part of the Overtime League, they have rarely matched up against many of the top teams in the country, but that does not take away from the overall ability that this team has. Jackson, a UNC commit and a top 20 player in the country, has a rare ability of athleticism and skill that allows him to score in bunches from anywhere on the court. His partner in crime in Elijah “Choppa” Moore completes the backcourt with elite shooting ability and pace. Their record isn’t the greatest, but expect OSL to be one of the most entertaining teams in the country.
Homecoming for two Jersey Stars
With the talent pool in New Jersey being so deep, we commonly see a few top players spread their talents around the nation. This is the case for two of our down, Nass Cunningham and Darius Adams. Former Gill St. Bernard star, Cunningham has been a journeyman these last two seasons but the Alabama commit has found himself at SoCal Academy in addition to his time in the OTE. Another star making his way back is former Manasquan superstar, Darius Adams. Adams lead Manasquan in his first two years but recently transferred to NIBC/EYBL power, La Lumiere School. He is currently averaging 14 points per game in the hardest basketball conference in the nation.
As far as our home state in Jersey, we possess two teams that can share the attention with the ranked teams. The first team is Blair Academy, led by super sophomore Deron Rippey Jr. With key victories against very good teams like St. Benedict’s and Ramapo, Blair have established themselves as one of the best prep schools in the state. As Rippey continues to emerge himself as a top guard in the country, Blair will continue to get more scary in the near future.
St. Rose is arguably the best team that will be representing Jersey in the Metro Classic. Ranked top five in the state, St. Rose is a lock to compete in the state championship for a reason. With the tandem of Matthew and Jayden Hodge leading the way, the two brothers are a duo that many teams have not found an answer for. Going up against Montverde, do not be surprised if St. Rose give the number one team in the country a hard time throughout the contest.
Another team to watch out for is St. Peter's Prep who sits at 18-1 on the year with their only loss coming to St. Benedicts. Peter's bring a balanced offense and very tough defense with a deep roster. Players to look out for include sharpshooter Nico Pena, sophomore guards Richie Rosa and Mason Santiago, and well rounded guards in Austin Spencer and Peyton Miller.
The sole girls game on the week will feature Jersey powerhouse Rutgers Prep. Coach Mary Klinger recently picked up her 700th career win and looks to add more. With top talent like Mikayla Blakes, Gigi Battle, Chloe Escanillas and Ava LaMonica playing at a high level, this team is a must watch.
Additionally, this weekend will feature a slew of games from Shore Conference teams like Toms River North, Manasquan, Red Bank Catholic and Rumson-Fair Haven.
Overall, a great weekend is in store for all us who love basketball. Make sure you catch all of the action at Franklin High School from Thursday-Saturday to watch some of the best teams and nation compete.