With all the verbal commitments in the Shore Conference a lot of people are asking questions. These questions range from why are so many players committing early? Why is it mostly Shore players? And how does it affect kids that have not given verbal commitments? These are all great questions and there are answers to all of them.


Why are so many kids committing EARLY? Most Division one Shore players have already visited and have been offered scholarships long before their senior year starts. In many cases these kids have offers before or after their freshman year. In some cases like in the case of Katie Healy (Colts Neck) the player makes a STRONG CONNECTION with a coach and it’s a wrap, from day one. Healy decided she only wanted to play for Tony Bozzella and was only a sophomore when she committed to Iona College and when Tony Bozzella accepted the Seton Hall job she wisely followed him.


Junior Grace Stant gave Villanova a verbal in the Fall

This year is no different than any other year in the shore Conference; some juniors such as Grace Stant make commitments in the fall (Villanova). In the case of Stant, she already been one of the most recruited players in the shore and it would have been silly to drag it on, once she found her dream school. But most juniors wait till the spring before they commit and they are able to relax and not go through the stress of the recruiting process all summer. There is another reason why so many Shore kids verbal early that most don’t know about. Many mid-major colleges will often offer a player early because of fear that the player will be un-recruitable later. Manhattan College I believe offered Morgan Graziano early last year for one reason; they knew she would be almost un-recruitable this summer for most Mid Major schools. Manhattan simply got ahead of schools with bigger names and basketball reputations. It is becoming very rare for Shore Conference players not having committed to a school before the spring or summer ends. Players such as Nicole Morris a sophomore at Rumson for example will have visited 8-10 schools before her junior season starts and already has multiple offers on the table. By next spring it would a shock if she has not chosen a school. But there are always those kids who wait with the hope of attracting schools, who may not be recruiting them yet for academic or athletic reasons and those kids tend to wait and play into the summer.  But the bottom line is this nothing new for the shore conference and spring verbal commitments have been going on for years.


Freehold Tori Wagner announced she would attend St. Francis of NY in the fall..

Why is it mostly Shore Players? This is an easy answer, because the Shore in most years make up over 50% of the Division players in the State most years and in some cases 60% or higher, three years ago the Shore Conference had 23 D1 players. College coaches know that if they what a Shore Conference player the competition is tough for a number of reasons. Bryan Whitten of St. Mary’s has ferociously recruited Shore players and it has taken him 3 years to finally land one. Here is something that most people will be surprised to hear. When Stephanie Gaitley was at Monmouth University she did not sign a singles shore player, until the year she left and it was KC Chambers! But she worked the shore like no other coach; and guess what? When she went to Fordham her hard work finally paid off… She got 3 superstars and Fordham is now a nationally ranked program and she was named the Women’s College Basketball Coach of the Year and she is a household name to almost every player and Coach in the Shore Conference. Even Gaitley had to fight a number of years before she could land shore players. She figured out she needed to start recruiting them when they were in 7th and 8th grade. She did the clinics and invited kids to campus before they got to high school. Rider College is doing much of the same thing these days and I believe we are going to see them get a stud very, very soon. The Wagner College staff for example last year jumped on Jackie Dluhi two weeks after getting the job and offered her… The Shore Conference gets more exposure and attention than any conference in the state by a long shot. The Shore Conference plays the most competitive high school games in the country. Therefore on many nights a college coach can see a game that’s looks very much like an AAU game; meaning multiple Division one players in one game. Shore players get a number of opportunities’ to play well in front of a college coach. Most high schools are lucky if there are two or three coaches at their biggest game of the year. Shore teams are almost certain to have anywhere from 5-15 college coaches at a high school game on any given night. Most kids playing high school basketball are forced to prove themselves in the summer recruiting period, whereas Shore players can prove it not only in the summer but during the season as well. But the #1 reason why most shore kids are able to get scholarship offers and then give a VERBAL COMMITMENTS in the spring…NAME RECOGNITION. Shore players are often households before they play their first high school game. Players like Tori Hyduke, Danielle Jordan and Faith Masonius for example are clearly D1 players and college coaches have already sent mail to these type kids, hoping to start a relationship early. In other parts of the state it’s rare if anyone knows the name of a great 7th or 8th grader outside of their hometown. It’s simple… more exposure, more opportunities and more college scholarships offers…this is what separates the Shore from all other areas.



How does this affect other kids? This is one of the most interesting things about the spring verbal commitments. I have always felt once one kid verbal’s, the other kids feel the need. If you think am wrong, go check the history, because once there is one commitment the flood gates tend to open. It almost as if everyone has been given permission to choose a school they like. But there is a negative side to all these commitments. Some kids and their families start to believe that it means they will be passed over. These kids  and their families  ARE DEAD WRONG, but I understand how these kids must feel and what they must be thinking, when they see so many kids getting such attention. What they don’t understand is that, they are in the mist of all this and this is not happening anywhere else…IT’S NOT THE NORM ACROSS THE COUNTRY!



Amanda Hagaman, was not offered a scholarship till October of her senior year, her mother asked me should she be worried. I told her “NO” because I understand the process and in Hagaman’s case there were exposure and name recognition issues…not talent. She would receive multiple offers,she chose UMBC and this year had some big nights and started as a freshman. I remember when I sat with Tiffany Montagne mother, when D2’s were offering her daughter full scholarships and pressuring her to sign. I told her those D2’s were simply ahead of the curve on the D1’s schools. Montagne suffered from late development and a lack of name recognition. She played with Stephanie Mason currently or Rider and Hannah Missry currently at Fordham, two of the best juniors in the state at the time. Montagne got little if any attention and often played in the two juniors shadow. Tiffany Montagne, who signed in April after her senior year is currently the starting guard at Northeastern and had a 32 point game last year as sophomore, you see the Shore Conference is also a place where many kids get offers late; because every time a Shore Kid makes a verbal the attention shifts somewhere else as colleges coaches look at other SHORE kids. Many of these kids are under the radar; Katelyn Kuster of Central is a great example. If she had not joined the Shore Shots or walked into the core skills training, she would have been discovered but it would have been later. Many kids like Montagne, Hagaman and Kuster would be superstars in other conferences, but the shore has a number of D1 kids every year who don’t make All Shore and certainly get overlooked. Now explaining this to kids and their parents who are watching all this going around them is difficult because they are often in panic mode, come the summer.  I can show you a list a mile long of shore players who signed their scholarships after their senior year…including my daughter who did not sign with Colgate until April of her senior year.


The Shore is a helping hand for kids with dreams…ask Kelly Hughes now a star at BC

The Shore is a hot place for coaches who are recruiting way after the spring and summer. Those kids who have not heard from or have not received a scholarship offer need to know this…every time a Sam Sabino for example says “YES” to a school, 4-5 other schools are looking for a new player. When Alex Barazotti says yes to a Loyola it opens up a chance for another kid. There will be another 5-6 division commitments in the Shore this year and more importantly even more D2 and D3 commitments…so parents and kids take it from somebody who knows how this recruiting thing works, there is TONS OF TIME AND THIS IS ONLY HAPPENS IN THIS AREA OF THE COUNTRY.  In most cases some of the best players have not even been seen enough by the coaches…


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