It’s rare when I don’t know the best freshman entering the Shore Conference. Lucy Thomas, who went on to become to the FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR was one of those. She became one of the best players in New Jersey and currently is starting at Monmouth University as a freshman. A phone call from a friend prompted me to go watch Ocean High School and the rest is history. It was clear from the moment I put eyes on Thomas, that she was special. Most of the best incoming freshman I usually see, long before their high school career starts. I see them in most cases at Saturday Core Skills or NBS. It’s at Core Skills that a Kamari Reynolds will show up and become a household name. Maybe a 5th grade Camryn Foltz will show up. There are not a lot of surprises these days. This is why DANIELLE SCHLESINGER is becoming one hell of a story.
The Mid-Monmouth age cut off is August 1st. Marlboro township has always used the calendar year for what GRADE a kid is in. Leading to older kids playing down. The vast majority (certainly not all) of Marlboro Mid Monmouth teams have significant contributors who are “playing down”, giving them an advantage they don’t have in high school. While there is nothing wrong with this, it can set up false expectations at the high school level. I have often been asked, why Marlboro is so dominate at the youth level but not as dominate in high school This age situation is the biggest reason why. Not kids leaving town for other schools, every town deals with this. If certainly not due to coaching. They have one of the best coaches in the state. It’s the reason I have always been careful when talking about Marlboro younger players. Marlboro recently changed their age requirements for school, putting them on a even playing ground with other towns playing Mid Monmouth. Danielle Schlesinger is part of the new breed of Marlboro players. It’s why I call her the “secret baby” of New Jersey.
When the Marlboro season started, I predicted they could be a Top 20 team in the state. They are sitting at #16 right now. I knew this because I was familiar with many of there players, despite them not being household names. One name on that roster, I did not know anything about was Danielle Schlesinger. I just knew she was a freshman and that was all I knew about her. That was until I started to noticed her name appearing in box scores. I noticed her debut when she had 12 points on opening night. She had double figures in 4 of her first 5 high school games. The game she did not have double figures, she had 6 points, 8 steals and 4 rebounds. Danielle Schlesinger had my attention. So I called a friend and asked him about the freshman. He told me “she was talented and a player I should go” see. So I was excited to see her against the RBC super talented babies. She has 3 points on the evening. It was nothing special, except she played with a edge. A real edge and that certainly got my attention… once again! I knew I had to watch her again, their was something about her game, that made me perk up. It’s why when she had 17 points the very next night, I knew Danielle Schlesinger was baller. I always watch to see what kids do after a big game. That next game always tells you about their competitive nature. It tells you, if a kid brings it every night regardless of the opponent.
Middletown South and Marlboro was a rematch of the WOBM semi- final. It was a game that had real Top 20 implications. Marlboro had beat South in game one. The game did not disappoint and neither did the baby Danielle Schlesinger. I was shocked by how cold bloodied the freshman was all afternoon. It was not because she had 9 points, but rather how she got the points. It seemed every three she made was bigger than the next. She played fearless and with that edge. Her ability to chase down loose balls and give up her body defies the way she looks. She isn’t a physical specimen, not blazing quick. She is not even a amazing athlete. What she is; is a basketball player. She moves likes a basketball player. She thinks like a basketball player. Her skills sets are that of a very talented, competitive basketball player. Danielle Schlesinger, may not have a big rep but she has a big game. The freshman is letting a game do her talking.
Danielle Schlesinger is not appearing to slow down this season. In fact she is getting better as the season moves on. In her last 4 games she is averaging 14 points a game. This is not a player going away. Yesterday Marlboro was in a dog fight against upstart Howell high school. Her 4 bombs and 12 points were a life saver for the #6 ranked team in the Shore Conference. They have been some real surprises this season. The Marlboro team may be one of those, but to those in the know, Marlboro is no surprise. Now Danielle Schlesinger, that’s what I call a real surprise.
When the season ends, the Post season awards will come rolling out. There is going to be lots of talk about who makes The All Freshman Team. Making this team means a player will most likely be a Division one lock. There have been 3 players in All Freshman history who have not gone on to D1( only one did not have a D1 0ffer). This year is no different, all the members of the 2019 All Freshman class have signed with D1 schools or have a offer. This year’s class is different than any other year and that’s because their is a wild card in the mix….that wild card is…. DANIELLE SCHLESINGER
MONDAY….MLK HOOFEST @HOOPGROUP