A high school junior’s basketball season can be pivotal in the college recruiting process if a player has aspirations of hitting the court on the next level.
Here are five juniors primed for good to great seasons in 2021-22, increasing the likelihood of playing collegiate hoops after high school.
Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick — St. Benedict’s/New Heights NYC
There are very few female New Jersey ballers who have improved the way Bland-Fitzpatrick has over the past year.
She shined on the hardwood in No Boyz Allowed tournament action as well as with the AAU New Heights NYC during AAU play and fall ball, using her explosive, physical nature to drain a copious number of points.
Furthermore, Bland-Fitzpatrick possesses remarkable athleticism and is a skilled defender, with a high ceiling to boot.
Now at St. Benedict’s, the junior scored 75 points, grabbed 87 rebounds, and made 22 steals in 15 games with Trenton Catholic Prep Academy last season.
Grace Kowalski — Montville/NJ Freedom
Kowalski began her high school hoops career by enjoying two solid seasons in which she dropped in 203 points and 163 points as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
The junior gets to the basket with proficiency, and is an above-average three-point shooter. Plus, the scrappy, high hoops acumen point guard is a disruptive defender, making 69 steals in her first two years as a Lady Mustang.
There no reason to believe that Kowalski, who has improved her passing abilities, will not continue her growth and factor in a bigger role for Montville this campaign.
She also slugged four home runs in 55 at-bats for the softball team last year.
Ella Marchesani — Saddle Brook
Marchesani is a steady, reliable shooter, good from behind the arc as well as from the charity stripe.
The junior dropped in 166 points in 10 contests last season, good for 16.6 points average per game. As a freshman, Marchesani banged home 297 points in 25 tilts, a 11.9 ppg average.
Long and lean, she is on pace to reach the 1000-point milestone that is the mark of distinction for high school hoops.
Brynn McCurry — Sparta/United NJ 17U squad
At 6-foot-1, McCurry has the ability to control the paint and score at will. Just look at her numbers last season: 302 points, 138 boards, and 30 rejections in just 15 contests.
More importantly, she is the girl you want shooting the rock with the game on the line; she is a natural born leader.
The three-sport junior athlete, who claimed the varsity team MVP and NJAC 1st Team All-Conference honor last year, is no doubt a force on a gifted Spartan squad.
As a freshman, the power forward recorded 468 points, collected 286 rebounds, dished out 113 assists, blocked 49 shots, and made 73 thefts in 29 affairs.
Olivia Weiss — West Essex/United NJ
After looking at Weiss’ numbers over the past two campaigns (440 points, 235 rebounds, and 64 steals), it is somewhat surprising that she is not more of a name on the New Jersey basketball scene.
But that will change this season. She is just too talented not to garner more hoops attention. The 5-foot-9 guard, who owns a nice shooting touch, is a first Team All-Conference hoopster and getting better every day due to her hard work.
Additionally, Weiss is a high academic student, with a 4.1 GPA.
— Jerry Del Priore
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