This is always the most interesting time of the year for me. That’s because there is so much truth in the statement that champions are made in the off season. It’s also a time of year a player can improve and build their reputation under the darkness of the night. This time of year there are no coaches watching. There is nobody rating players at Elite camps. This time of year is really about getting in the gym and getting better. It’s a start to what will happen down the road for many. For some the story will end with roses and for others it will serve as a missed opportunity.


I am watching many kids heading off to play Division One basketball these days. D1 players in most cases spend their summers on campus once they graduate from high school. Players like Defensive Player of the Year Ashley O’Connor and McDonald All American Justine Pissott are long gone and on to their next journey. Soon others will follow and begin the next chapter of their athletic lives. Now O’Connor and Pissott are two young ladies that are totally prepared for the next level. They put the work in and have made all the right moves this spring. Not every kid off to college is in that position. Many are going to realize from day one their not prepared. They will pay a awful price for there lack of commitment. As somebody who sees’ many of the kids before they head off to college. I have a good feel as to who will be ready and who will not. I’m sorry to say, I’m rarely if ever wrong when it comes to such matters. There is no light switch the goes on when a young lady goes to college. That switch is on long before they walk on a campus. There are no surprises when it comes to such matters, you either made the commitment or you did not….there is no in-between. But for high school players on the AAU circuit, you always have a 2nd chance. That’s if a player is willing to take advantage of there chances to get it right!


There are always players who stock rises during the spring, take Nina Emnace for instant. After one weekend of great performances in Boo Williams against nationally ranked players. She now has high major D1 offers from almost every conference. She right now is the most recruited player in the rising 2024 Jr class. But these offers didn’t come without a price. You see Nina Emnace is following the right road map to success. She has shed the tears and felt the disappointment that comes with chasing a dream. I have seen her tear up after not playing to her best. I have seen her play with pain… real pain. I have seen her face when she has been coached hard. It has not always been pretty or for that matter a joy ride. But she has done what so many could not do…. STAY COMMITTED. Nina Emnace puts her 90 mins of shooting in everyday. She puts her competitive 2 hours of training in every day. She accepts the criticism that is directed at any weakness in her game. She also is not a good student but a mega student. The type that every academic school in the country would love to have. You see Nina Emnace has disciple and understands nothing comes without a price tag attached. The bigger the dream, the bigger the price tag and she understands this. It’s why she will not take any short cuts over the next 5 weeks.


Whitney Hobson will be joining Nina Emnace at Trinity Hall next season. She has been playing on the 2026 Shoreshots for 3 years. The Shoreshots are a team loaded with players who have yet to play a high school game but have D1 coaches buzzing around them like flies. Her teammates are already heavily in the D1 recruiting process. But Whitney Hobson is not yet part of the world. That’s because she has had to run on that long lonely road. She doesn’t get the spotlight on game day. Nobody is writing blogs about her. College coaches are not begging her to visit their schools. She is that kid who must make that choice that so many other kids have to make. Stick around or run for the hills. Maybe run to that happy place, where everyone knows your name and your are made to feel special. When Whitney Hopson is in the gym she doesn’t get to play on the main courts. Her AAU team doesn’t run set plays for her. She is not a considered a superstar. She didn’t make the Golden Dozen like her teammates. She doesn’t get the love that so many crave. There are no sweet nothings whispered in her ears. She is often was just a ghost along for the ride doing all the dirty work and getting the least amount of credit. Most kids move on when faced with such disrespect. But Whitney Hobson has done the hardest thing in sports to do and she has done it for years now…SHE SHOWS UP everyday. She never misses a day, never has a excuse and yet nobody ever acknowledges her dedication or at least I don’t. I just started spelling her name correctly for the first time today. Whitney has been expected to accept all this and live with it….AND SHE HAS. This is why right now Whitney Hobson is looking more and more like a serious problem for opponents. This is why Whitney Hopson has improved to the point where you can no longer ignore her. She’s been eating the disrespect; so she could have what is now taking place…. her insane improvement curve and development. Soon coaches will know her name. Soon Trinity Hall just may be the luckiest school in the shore conference. Because Whitney Hobson is on the fast track to greatness. But she has had to walk alone to find that greatness. She has needed to be committed and that won’t stop this summer.


DELANEY FINNEGAN plays for Archbishop Wood, High School Pa and the Philly Belles. There are stars on these teams, big stars. So Delaney Finnegan has to fight for anything that comes her way. She was just named the Captain of her high school team. It’s a nice feather in her cap but if she played in the Shore Conference you would know her name. In fact she’d be a star and household name if she played in the Shore Conference. But she doesn’t so she has to say committed to her mission. Now she will have to sum up the energy and mental toughness to do it all over. You know, travel 2 hours for a entire week to NBS camp in order to remind coaches she is the “REAL DEAL OF DEALS”. She will need to spend the next 5 weeks getting ready and preparing for the July Live period and Elite camps. You see Delaney Finnegan is the biggest sleeper I know these days. But I see her in the right environment. I know she can slide to the point guard spot if needed. I know she is an elite shooter. I know that she is physical and as tough as it gets. I know she is going to be a serious problem for all at the next level. She is going to blow up like bubblegum. But first she is going to have to get past the challenges in front of her. That is going to require her totally mental strength. She going to have to make all the sacrifices that she has been making along the way; once again. But now she is going to feel the pressure, she going to have real heat breathing down the back of neck. The good news is that she will handle it with ease. That’s because I know she will be living in the gym. I know she will find her way to Camp this summer. I know she will do whatever it takes…. something most kids just can’t or are willing to do!


24 SIOBHAN STAPLETON plays for the NJ Rise Masonious 2023 team. She was 1st Team All Freshman. She has helped Trinity Hall go from rags to riches. She has a college body right now. She is highly skilled and she is a gym rat. She shows up at the gym after school every day and shoots. She attended NBS in the fall and did battle against the best players in New Jersey. It’s hard not to love her game. You watch her with her high school team and you know right away she is going to be a wonderful swiss knife one day while playing in college. But she is going to have to find the strength to continue to work hard and do all the extra stuff this summer. That’s because AAU basketball is tricky and if your too unselfish you won’t be appreciated and if your too selfish your a problem. Siobhan Stapleton plays the right way always and that is always a good thing in the long run. She will need to trust that coaches will see how talented she is once they put her in their system. That’s because she can play in any system. She can also play any role, scorer, passer, screen sitter and yes post scorer. But for now Siobhan Stapleton has to focus on getting ready and staying ready. That means camp, gym time and getting better everyday…. that should not be a problem because she is totally committed to being one of the best players in the 2024 class…. you just have to pay attention. There are some players who the more you watch the more you love them. Siobhan Stapleton is one of the kids. Her patience will need to match her work ethic this summer. AAU basketball is different….just like she is!

Meghan Gentile doesn’t play AAU for anyone these days. That’s because the Lodi Immaculate guard has been out with a torn ACL. She is slowly making her way back. She may be back for the live period. But there’s a chance she may not be ready. That’s the reality for the senior guard these days. Now she is really being tested. She has to be questioning what is in store for her future. But she’d be wise to remember, she is a gym rat. A player who loves basketball and eat and sleeps the game. She be wise to remember she is one of the best guards in the 2023 class. She be wise to remember she has grown 3 inches in the last year. She be wise to remember she was taking over games before her injury. She be wise to remember she was treating some of the best guards in New Jersey like farm animals. Meghan Gentile better have a good memory. Her issue is not going to be her game. It’s going to be her memory. The college coaches are going to come…it’s just a matter of when and who…. the who will be those smart D1 coaches who are in position to get a steal of steals. But college coaches who wish to hit paydirt will need to have a good memory too….because the best available combo guard in the 2023 may be sitting out there for the taking …because Megan Gentile’s best years are ahead of her at the next level…..


Avery Barth is part of the 2027 Class, it’s a class in deep trouble. That’s because it could be the first class in Shore Conference history that is not loaded with impact babies and future stars. Avery Barth plays for the NJ Rise team that is coached by Jason McGhee. The Shore 2027 class is not full of gym rats. But there is hope for the 2027 class and its starts with Avery Barth. That’s because she is a gym rat. That’s because she has been in the gym as often as any of the other great 7th graders of past years. She is dedicated and driven. She will be in camp all summer and she will develop because of this. She will do the free shooting all summer because she already shoots with the older players everyday now. She is acting different than the other 7th graders in her class. That’s because she is different than other kids in the 2027 class. She has a different mindset. She has a different focus and she will have a different future. She plans to attend Middletown North and play for one of the best teachers in the Shore, her AAU Coach, Jason McGhee. They will make a wonderful team. That’s because they both have a vision and special work habits. Avery Barth is committed and that why her summer and game will be special.




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