Be Seen Tour - Jersey Force
The Be Seen Tour brought us to New Jersey last week to see one of the top independent grassroots teams in the northeast and one that has set the standard when it comes to prioritizing their players’ safety during this pandemic, while getting creative to maximize their opportunities for exposure.
The Force have competed completely outside this summer, and yet still put together as many practices, exposure games, and video content for college coaches as anyone under the direction of program director Joe Stein.
It’s just the latest chapter in what is already a proud tradition for the program, even in their relatively short history. As a result, they’ve experienced tremendous growth, with 22 teams ranging from u9 to u17 spanning the entire state of New Jersey this year.
In the last five years alone, the Jersey Force have sent 36 players on to compete at the scholarship level and 20 at the D1 level alone. In the upcoming 2020-21 season, they’ll have a total of 56 alums playing college basketball.
They already have a pair of D1 commitments in the class of 2021. Sam Fagan was the first, when he pledged to Monmouth in May. Fagan is the engine that makes it all go according to Stein as he runs the show and gets everyone easy shots.
He’s also the latest in a rapidly growing list of D1 guards to come out of the program beginning with the tandem of Sa’Eed Nelson (American) and Dachon Burke (Nebraska) back in 2016 and also including Ramiir Dixon Conover (St. Francis PA), Kenny Jones (Loyola MD), and, most recently, Nick Boyd (FAU).
There’s a similar streak of big men that dates back to LaSalle’s Jared Kimbrough in 2018 and includes St. Francis’ Josh Cohen in 2019 and Yale’s Luke Kolaja in 2020. Chris Rubayo’s commitment to Lafayette made this the fourth straight year the program has produced a D1 big man.
Rubayo won’t be the last this year. The program’s top prospect in 2021, and perhaps best since the likes of Kimbrough and Nelson, is Dom Barlow from Dumont High School. The 6-foot-8 forward is the type of high-level athlete whose frame catches your eye at first glance and then wows you with his explosive finishing ability. He’s also just scratching the surface of his potential as he shows flashes of some face-up skill to match.
St. Peter’s Prep’s Ray Ford Jr. is the best available guard in the program. He already holds offers in the NEC but shows the talent to play his way up to the MAAC with good size, a powerful body, and undeniable playmaking ability.
Another prospect for D1 coaches, from the Ivy League in particular, is Brian Johansson. He’s 6-6, ultra-versatile, able to play multiple positions, and absolutely off the charts academically.
That’s a recurring theme for the Force program, not just in the class of 2021 but in years past as well, with alums currently at places like Yale, Penn, Amherst, Lafayette, Haverford, and more.
Ben Pearce is another very high academic prospect. He came to the Force from Rye Country Day in New York and made a definite impression with his high IQ and smooth floor game when we watched.
Joe Carroll is another good student, but one who is getting steady interest from D2 schools in the Northeast 10. He’s a skilled, but especially smart, frontcourt player who can operate from various spots on the floor and even facilitate for others with his passing ability.
Another potential division II prospect is Elijah Barlow, from St. Joseph’s Metuchen. The wiry built guard is smooth and can operate off either his jumper or the bounce. He’s another accomplished student in the classroom as well.
Marcus Pierce is a very intriguing long-term prospect and reminiscent of Nick Boyd, who had very little scholarship interest through his high school career, but played his way into multiple D1 offers with a prep year before committing to FAU. Pierce shows flashes of that type of upside as well and if he can follow a similar trajectory, will be a name worth remembering.
Will Parisi is another perimeter weapon who provides shot-making from beyond the arc and toughness with his total floor game.
If that weren’t enough, the Force have a full squad of additional college prospects, many of whom are also high academic prospects, on their u17 Select squad that includes the likes Ryan Smith, Jordan Stafford, Luke Albrecht, Kody Robinson, Michael White, Chris George Jr. and more.
Stay tuned to NERR tomorrow for a look at all the Jersey Force video content from our stop on the Be Seen Tour.