In all my years of watching the AAU season, no summer has ever been more eye popping. No summer has ever been more of a teaching lesson for kids that are paying attention. This was the summer of tears, broken dreams and joy. There were kids that navigated the AAU season perfectly and some who could not find the right recipe. In the end as they say in the streets of New York, it is what it is and everyone will have to live with there decisions.
This was to be the summer that high school players would truly feel the weight of the transfer portal. Instead it became the summer of the high school player. The high majors, mid majors and low majors cleaned yup on high school players. The D2 schools like JEFFERSON AND Adelphi university had massive steals. It seems college coaches are growing weary of the transfer portal. More that half the players who entered the portal did not find a school.
This summer was also the summer of deception. In all my years I never saw so many kids told that they would get an opportunity to play and the complete opposite happened. Many kids saw little playing and time in the Spring live period. But yet refuse to believe their own eyes. The coaches promised more minutes that never came. In many cases ruining a kids brand and and recruiting status. It is a hard lesson for many to learn and hopefully won’t be repeated next year. If you did t play in the spring what would make a kid thing the summer would be any different. These kids are now under the gun and will need serious rehabilitation in terms of recruiting.
The 2027 class continues to be the strangest thing I have seen in all my years. Watching boarder line college level players travel across the country to play in live events was sad and a total money grab by AAU directors. Rather than keep these kids at home and let them use the spring and summer to develop and have a fighting chance. These kids spent most of their time playing in meaningless AAU events. How about this statement. There are only 2-3 D1 players currently in the 2027 class. These kids have been let down by adults and now are fighting a serious uphill battle. Not to play D1 but just to play in college…. SAD STUFF!
The SJV transfers puts them right back in the mix of things for another state title. But what is most interesting is the the development of just about every player. Ashley Sofilkanish, Aleena Dinker, Madison Kocis, Stella Lockhart and DANELLA Matus all have made serious growth as players. DANELLA MATUS for the record is a ALL SHORE and ALL DEFENSIVE TEAM candidate.
This summer was also a summer of players with low profiles stepping up. Whitney Hobson of Trinity Hall, was absolutely wonderful this summer and her stock has risen in a major way. The same can be said about Sophie Smith of RBC.
The surprise team of the summer had to be the NJ RISE U17. With the return and resurgence of Hope Masonious they had an outstanding summer. The team produced 3 Division One players in Hope Masonious and McKenna Karlson of Manasquan and Kasey Bertones of Mainland. Meanwhile Siobhan Stapleton is on her way to D3 powerhouse Tufts. The RISE proved they were good and could play with anyone and Ali Napolitano proved she is one heck of a coach. They delivered for there kids in a big way.
Mary Beth Chambers resigning at St. Rose came as a shock to many. But she was offered a coaching job in New York, she simply could not refuse. She leaves after 5 years of rebuilding a broke program when she arrived. Her asst Chrissy Hatfield, who was also a asst to Joe Whealen the last time St. Rose won a SCT title, will now take over and hopes to keep St. Rose in the spotlight. St. Rose must hope she sticks around for a while. The program has had a number of coaches in the past decade. All very successful.
This AAU season Tracey Sabino once again proved she is the QUEEN of scholarships. It’s amazing how she continues to deliver for her kids throughout her organization. Not just the stars but everyone.
NINA EMNACE this summer took some highly rated players to school this summer. The Cookie Monster at times had P5 players literally afraid to dribble the basketball. Emnace Is the clear pre season front runner for POY.
THE u17 EYBL NJ GEMZ had a up and down summer. But towards the end put things together in a big way. I would be dishonest if I didn’t bring up how so many people thought it was bizzare that Dawn Karpell was not the head coach but rather an asst coach. Folks you can’t have what many believe is the best high school coach in the country as an asst in AAU. But give the GEMZ credit by the end of the summer they were a much improved team. Bravo to Shannon Coyle
This summer the behavior of parents was the best I have seen in years. But the language on the court by some players boarded on disgraceful. High schools better be on guard because the AAU culture is quietly slipping in to the high school world.
RBC made it to the championship game at Best of Maryland. It’s a clear sign that the Casey’s are going to be a serious threat to win the SCT the next 3 years. Not having a senior may be an issue. But Christina Liggio and Tessa Carman the Captains are both experienced, and are battle tested.
You cannot talk about the AAU season without bringing up Allison Cannon. NJIT got the steal of the summer in Cannon who just continues to get better by the second. Her spring and summer were dream like. She will be a star at NJIT. Now her teammate Mackenzie Teevan has caught the attention of all and has scholarships falling out her pockets. Both players were gym rats all post AAU season and rightfully so have been rewarded.
While the 2026 class, I don’t believe will break the record of 23 D1 players. It still looks like a class with at least 17 D1 players right now. Interestingly I believe Brooke Hollawell ot Masasquan is now a D1 lock. Some kids dropped off the D1 list because of a lack of growth, lack of playing time and not playing against older elite competition.. it happens but these kids still have plenty of time.
Here is a quick look at the D1 locks in the 2026 class
Tessa Liggio- RBC
Katie Liggio- EBC
Sophie Smith – RBC
Addy Nyemcheck- RBC
Lola Giordano- RBC
Daniella Malesky – RBC
Ashley Solfilkanish- SJV
Madison Kocis- SJV
Stella Lockhart- SJV
Grace Feeney- Trinity Hall
Whitney Hobson- Trinity Hall
Teagan DRENNAN- Trinity Hall
NIAMH STAPLETON- Trinity Hall
Synai Blychanton- RBC
Brooke Missry- St. Rose
The number of kids who stopped grinding after the Live period was bigger than ever before. They went to elite camps and that’s about it. It’s shame when kids have a big summer and let it all go down the drain by not being relevant. These kids will notice they are starting over from a recruiting standpoint come September. Why does this happen? They don’t know there recruiting status.
MY FINAL SUMMER TOP 10
1. RBC– They sit here until I see someone better. Christina Liggio and Tessa Carman both are POY possibilities
2. SJV– The only question is how long will it take everyone to learn the SJV system. They have the best senior and leader in the Shore in Julia Karpell
3. TRINITY HALL– Matt McCarthy takes a back seat to no one on the sidelines. Nina EMNACE is the POY front runner. The babies are a year older and the schedule dynamic.
4. OCEAN TWP– The four horsewomen return. They are all battled tested and healthy. The schedule will be more in line with other top teams
5. ST. ROSE– They are shockingly good and that’s because of a roster of players stepping up. If Jada Lynch matures this is a very dangerous team
6. MANASQUAN– There is no doubt in my mind they can not only move up but can be the team to beat. They may need to made a few personal sacrifices as a group when things get real
7. RBR– JT will try and stay under the radar. He won’t care about ranking or wins in the fall. It’s an old trick of his. But make no mistake they can beat ANYONE
8.RFH– Pay no attention to this ranking. By seasons end they will be the team nobody wants to play. Erin Reid is a warrior and loves to get in the gym. The freshman class is underrated. RAQUEL GUIDETT could make a run at All Shore.
9. HOLMDEL – ALLISON CANNON and MACKENZIE TEEVAN give them a punchers chance every night
10. MIDDLETOWN SOUTH. Tim Brennan and a banner freshman class is the difference
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