TOP 7TH AND 8TH GRADERS… RIGHT NOW!

Core Skills Training will resume this Saturday. Core Skills is a launching pad for kids across the state. In fact just about every Top player has made their way to Core Skills as a 7th and 8th grader. Some come as unknowns and leave as future stars. You learn who the stars of the future are at Core Skills. This year it appears no different. A year ago James Cooper asked me this at Core Skills…”Where are the players” the fact of the matter is the 2024 class has a lot of work to do. But this year’s group in a word is “WOW” this is a stacked group in both 7th and 8th grade. How stacked you ask? How about this will be one of the largest D1 classes in recent times. It will rival the 2023 class and the 2012 class which had 23 division one players from the Shore Conference alone. So college coaches get your pen and paper… now remember this list, like every year will grow as we see more players each week start to shine. We have a long way to go before we have a complete list of the best up and coming players this winter!

IT’S AMAZING HOW QUICKLY KIDS GO FROM “GONNA BE GOOD” to COULD’VE BEEN GOOD”

DIVISION ONE ASST. AND CURRENT HEAD COACH

OLIVIA SHAUGHNESSY5’5″- 2025- Combo Guard- Everything in the 2025 class starts right here. She has proven all fall and now at Core Skills. She just may be the star of this years 8th grade group. Shaughnessy is the total package in terms of what you want in a guard. She is a pitbull on defense. She is the best on and off ball defender in the 2025 class. On the offensive side her basketball IQ has no match as does her motor. Her strength with the ball is special even for such a young player. Name any current high school top D1 guard in the shore conference and she has held her own against them. She has elite vision and passing skills. But above all her competitive nature has no match in the 2025 class. Olivia Shaughnessy has not chose a high school. Her dad is the assistant coach at Manasquan. She is a member of the NJ Belles Elite Team. College coaches we are talking HIGH MAJOR DIVISION ONE FUTURE LOCK and future ALL SHORE STAR.

LIZZY MITCHELL-5’6′- 2025- COMBO- right now is playing as well as any 2025 at Core Skills. In fact right now she is the best natural scorer among the group. How to do you want it, at the rim, from the three, or off the bounce in traffic. She has one of the most elite scoring packages in the entire 2025 class. Lizzy Mitchell is a special case because she will be attending Wall high School. This is a big moment for the Wall program. Before when her playing days are over she will be one of the best players in the Schools recent history. She may get a little lost in terms of media attention. But she plays for the Shoreshots and that will keep her visible. This is a future Division one stud. In the meantime one of the 5 best freshman to enter the Shore next year.

DANIELLA MATUS- 5’8″-2025- COMBO– is from Essex Fells way up in North Jersey. But it doesn’t stop her from making the trip to Neptune for the competition at Core Skills. This is a future All State type player. Not only she is physically imposing for a point guard. She is highly skilled and is a deadly shooter with massive shooting range. She is long as in really long. It allows her to play lockdown defense and cause turnovers and deflexions. Her handle is dangerous as she goes both directions equally well off the bounce. If you like big strong rebounding guards. Then say hello to Daniella Matus… right now it looks like, Morris Catholic will get the future DIVISION ONE LOCK.

CAROLINE POLLOWAY- 2025-6’3″- FORWARD- RBR head Coach John Turhan is sitting on the best frontline in the Shore Conference one day. Make no mistake this young lady is going to be special, high majors and top academic schools you be wise to check in now. Because soon everyone will be checking in on the 6’3″ lefty with excellent skill sets. She is athletic and oh so quick, who can run the floor like a guard. Like all young post players it’s a process. She has a work ethic and more importantly a beautiful IQ the will make her development quicker and more dynamic. She is that rare tall player who can not only handle the ball but is a excellent passer and shooter. This will one day be one of the best post players in New Jersey. She also is a future DIVISION ONE LOCK... she has not touched the surface of what she will become one day. She currently is a member of the NJ Belles

TESSA CARMAN2025- 5’10- WING has the chance to be the best player in the 2025 class one day. She is big, strong and athletic. She can play all three guard positions. Her ball handling skills are rare for such a powerfully built player. She has the ability to post up or step away from deep. She has the potential to be a big time rebounder and defender. No player in the 2025 class has more of a upside. She is the younger sister of Boston College bound Ally Carman. Currently a member of the Shoreshots, she will attend Red Bank Catholic. Tessa Carman has a chance to be one of the top 25 best players in all of America one day. She is the daughter of former NFL player Jon Carman and All time Shore conference and Georgia Tech great Candice. You may be looking at the face of girls basketball in the SHORE CONFERENCE ONE DAY. She is a POWER 5 LOCK

CASSIDY KRUESI2025- 5’5″- COMBOright now is the biggest surprise this winter. She is mega competitive and has a real next level work ethic. She has displayed a deadly jumper to go along with a more than solid ball handling ability against pressure. The combo guard has a real work ethic and willingness to get better. She does not take plays off and gives you 100% effort at all times. She plays for the Central Jersey Hawks Randy Westrol. Currently she has not chosen a high school. But over the next 6 weeks look for her stock to rise in a big way. This is a young lady on a mission

TAYLOR SOFIKANICH- 2026- 6’3″- FORWARD- is a 7th grader. She stands at 6’3″ and is not done growing yet. She has a body that coaches dream about. She is long, strong and insanely athletic. She runs the floor well and has a bounce in her step. The upside is scary to say the least. She has excellent hands and is active around the class. She without question will one day be in the conversation as one of the best post players in the Shore Conference. She is a member of Team Rio and will attend St. John Vianney one day. This is one of the special ones and it’s just a matter of time before she fills her potential. She is not afraid of hard work or commitment. THIS IS FUTURE D1 GAME CHANGER FOR SOME PROGRAMS

MADISON KOCIS-5’5″- 2026-POINT GUARDmake no mistake this is the Rolls Royce of point guards. The 7th grader will one day be one of the best point guards in all of New Jersey. She has already proved she can play with Elite Division One seniors right now. She has grown 2 inches over the summer and gotten much stronger. Her IQ has no match as does her leadership skills. In the past year she has turned herself into the best pure shooting point guard these eyes has seen in recent times. She handles defensive pressure with ease and simply never turns the ball over. She is the classic defensive point guard. She simply does not get beat off the dribble. Some compare her to a cross behind Abby Antognoli and Sophia Sabino the current two who many believe are the best point guards in New Jersey. Well folks buckle up because this young lady is more advanced that both… she is a future POWER 5 LOCK!. She plays AAU for the EYBL Sparks team and is the future face of point guards in New Jersey.

RILEY FITZPATRICK-5’9″- 2O25- WINGShe has a live body. She is also is athletic as it gets. Now thrown in her ability to rise her game against older D1 competition. She has been explosive at the rim because of her physical strength and quickness. Another long, highly skilled player. She can knock down deep threes and has the ability to shoot off the catch or the bounce. She is murder in transition. She will attend St. Rose High School in the fall. Giving Mary Beth Chambers a impact freshman. Riley Fitzpatrick has improved each of the past 3 years. The next 6 weeks of Core Skills should see her take her game other bigger step forward. She is a future Division One lock…she is a member of the ShoreShots.

AVA FAJARDO=5’4″- 2025- Combo Guardshe is the younger sister of D1 FDU bound Ella. The lefty is silky smooth and has all the skills sets to be a impact player at the high school level, right out the gate. Not only does she have the ability to score at all three levels. Her ball handling skills allow her to play either guard position. She is lighting quick with fast hands. Her ability to steal the ball is a gift as she steps in lanes or get tips. She is a excellent on ball defender. Blessed with a nice IQ and love for the game. Like her sister she will soon play division one basketball one day. She will attend Immaculate Conception in Lodi. She is a member of NJ Sparks EYBL team.

CHRISTINA LIGGIO- 5’5″- 2025- WINGmake no mistake this is one of the most improved players in the 2025 class. She has gone from a really good player to one of the TOP 5 players in the entire class. Christina is the ultimate gym rat. No current player in this class spends more time in the gym. It has led to becoming a deadly shooter and offensive juggernaut. But it’s her vocal presence and leadership on the court that will jump off the page. Her ability to play team defense has no match in this class. Her ball handling skills are special, making her the perfect wing. A elite shooter who can handle the ball. She plays for the Shoreshots and will attend Red Bank Catholic. She is a future DIVISION ONE LOCK!

JADA LYNCH- 5’9″- 5’9″- 2026- COMBO She is a physical specimen of the highest level. She has a college ready body right now. She is not a 7th or 8th grader who is repeating to gain a physical edge. She already has that edge. She is also the most explosive player at Core Skills. Her skill level for her age is beyond her years. Her ability to handle the ball allows her to play all three guard positions with no drop off in performance. As she learns to play the game, she will be more dominant. She is becoming a better defender and passer and when these two skill sets catch up with raw natural ability. We are talking about one of the best players in the entire state of New Jersey. This is a future top 25 player in the country. For now she will put in work with the NJ Belles before choosing a high school. She is the daughter of Tennis great Kim Clijsters and Villanova and Shore great Brain Lynch. Jada is a future POWER 5 LOCK.

KATIE LIGGO-5’4″- 2026- COMBO- Let me be very clear. This is the most gifted offensive player at Core Skills. We are talking about a electrifying scorer of the highest level. She is the best shooter these eyes has seen since Justine Pissot. And like Pissott has a monster type work ethic as she is in the gym 6 days a week for up to 4 hours at a time. College coaches make no mistake you will search high and low to find a player with her natural scoring ability. She will attend RBC one day and will one day make a run as one of the greatest scorers in that schools history. Strong words but true. Her ability to create her own space off the dribble and shoot a high percentage is special and rare. This is a Division one lock and future FIRST TEAM ALL SHORE PLAYER. This is an whole different type of animal coaches….She currently plays for the Shoreshots.

GRACE LOVE – 5’6″- 2025- WingAre you surprised to see her on this list. I’m sure if you follow youth basketball, your surprised. She plays for the NJ Belles and has seemed to come from nowhere. She is long and talented with nice skill sets. She has the ability to not just get to the rim. But she finishes and is a quite assassin on the court. She has not made a Saturday appearance but has made her presence known at Core Skills during the week. She is an excellent shooter and solid improving ball handler. She is a total gym rat of the highest order. She will attend either Manasquan or St. Rose. The school getting this young lady, is getting a player. She does not have a big profile or getting the attention of others. But I believe she jumps lots of players in the coming years with bigger reps on far more well known teams. Why? Because the work ethic is next level. This is a player trying to make a name for herself and will do exactly that… dare I remind you of my track record regarding such matters. No reputation but soon to be among the best in time.

MARISSA AMITIE – 5’9″- 2025- WINGThis is a young player with a wonderful upside. She is long, athletic, quick and aggressive. This is a player who is growing by leaps and bounds. She improves her IQ, it seems everyday. But what you need to know is this… she will be an elite defender in the Shore Conference one day. In fact I believe she will guard all 5 positions in high school. As her mid range shooting improves she will be even more of a issue on offense. Because she has a lighting first step and is insanely active around both backboards. The next 6 weeks at NBS should see Marissa Amitie grown into one of the best babies in the area… she is from Wall and plays for the Central Jersey Hawks. SHE ALSO HAS TRAINED UNDER STEVE HEATH…meaning she will develop a full understanding of the game

As a 6th grader…we knew!

ADDY “BAD WOMAN” NYEMCHEK- 5’9″- 2026- GUARD- If Madison Kocis is the Rolls Royce of future point guards. Then make no mistake this the future of all guards in the state of New Jersey. She is 5’9″ after her latest growth spell. She will be over 6ft one day. She is the ultimate guard. She can play all three GUARD positions. She is an elite passer as in so ahead of years. The mind is beyond special, as his her decision making ability. She may be the best rebounding guard in the Shore and that’s because her family has decided to more from upstate NY to the Shore Conference. Lucky RBC and Joe Montano because that’s where she will be attending high school one day. She will instantly from day one move into the RBC starting lineup. Her ability to get in the lane and score or pull up, you simply do not teach, you either have it or you don’t…she does in a big way. Her ability to find shooters is the best these eyes has seen in recent times. You want more? How about her insane length and quickness? This is soon to be a Shore Conference Player of the Year Candidate and Power 5 stud. This gym rats’ parents both went to Monmouth University. The dad was a star basketball player and the mom was a star soccer play… folks it’s in the genes… she will play AAU with the Shoreshots.

TESSA LIGGIO- 5’4″- 2026- PURE POINT GUARD- yes another Liggio and this one is just like the other one. A future Division One and impact player at RBC from day one in high school. She is a walking, talking new version of Sophia Sabino (Fordham U). Toughness and a competitive nature is what separates her from so many other points guards in this class. She has the ability right now to shoot behind screens. Despite her size she has every finishing move at the rim. This is a player with a full tool box. She is a 50/50 ball queen already. She is a ball hawk on defense. She’s on track to be the new better version of Sabino… Like her sisters do, she plays for the Shoreshots.

CORE SKILLS RETURNS THIS WEEKEND…. EMAIL JAMES COOPER … COOP@HOOP.COM TO SIGN UP…there are spot available

This entry was posted in uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.