Montverde Ready To Battle Against New Jersey's Top Teams At Metro Classic

Kevin Boyle built a national powerhouse at St. Patrick High School in New Jersey before departing for the warmer weather of the Orlando, Fla. area after the 2010-11 season.

Yet the New Jersey native now makes an annual end-of-season pilgrimage back to the land of Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano to test his team against New Jersey's best.

After taking on fellow national power Oak Hill Academy (VA) on Saturday night, Montverde will finish up the season at the Metro Classic when they meet the Ranney School and Roselle Catholic in a pair of games Feb. 8 and 9 at Kean University.

Montverde (17-2) is currently ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today, while Roselle Catholic is No. 15 and Ranney No. 16.

"Every year when we come up to the Metro, it's great to be back home to see friends and family, and it's for a good cause," Boyle said Friday by phone. "And we have the opportunity to usually play the best teams in the state of New Jersey. I think both teams have been ranked 1 or 2 in the state over the year, and both teams have been ranked in the Top 15 [nationally] during the school year. They are two teams that have achieved high national recognition so it's two really competitive games."

Between them, the three schools feature four McDonald's All-Americans in Kentucky-bound Kahlil Whitney of Roselle Catholic, Villanova signee Bryan Antoine of Ranney, Florida signee Scottie Lewis of Ranney and uncommitted Montverde wing Precious Achiuwa, who is being courted by UConn, Kansas, North Carolina, and St. John's, among others. (UConn is expected to watch him at the event.)

"I think the Metro and Pryia [Roy] have put together a great event," Boyle said. "You don't usually see four McDonald's All-Americans in too many high school events outside of your incredibly elite events like Hoophall and City of Palms. The Metro has a lot of really good teams and really good players. The metropolitan area usually does."



In the past the Metro Classic has featured Ben Simmons (Montverde, Sixers); Karl-Anthony Towns (St. Joe's Metuchen, Timberwolves); D'Angelo Russell (Montverde, Nets); Isaiah Briscoe (Roselle Catholic, Magic); Deandre Bembry (Patrick School, Hawks); Dakari Johnson (Montverde, Thunder); Cheick Diallo (Our Savior, Pelicans); Wade Baldwin (St. Joe's Metuchen, Trailblazers); and Malachi Richardson (Trenton Catholic, Raptors).

As for this year's group, Lewis, Antoine, and Whitney are all projected 2020 lottery picks, according to ESPN.com.

Boyle, meantime, has coached several of those players and produced more top-3 NBA Draft picks since 2011 than any coach in America outside of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. Coach K has six, Boyle has five.

Boyle has also coached four guys named to this year's All-Star Game in Simmons, Russell, Kyrie Irving, and Joel Embiid.

In a blockbuster game on Wednesday night back in Jersey, Ranney downed Roselle Catholic, 61-49, behind 25 points from Antoine in front of a capacity crowd of 2,400 at Brookdale Community College. Now the two Jersey teams will each get a shot at Montverde.

"The annual Roselle Catholic vs. Montverde game is something I think both programs really look forward to and it's become one of the marquee annual games in New Jersey," Roselle Catholic coach Dave Boff said.

During his tenure at St. Pat's, Boyle won five New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles, second only to St. Anthony's, which won 12 under legendary coach Bob Hurley.

Under Boff, Roselle Catholic has now won three since 2013 behind players like Briscoe, Tyler Roberson, and LSU freshman Naz Reid.

Now here comes Ranney seeking its first TOC title and feeling confident after beating Roselle Catholic this week.

Before the Metro Classic, Montverde will hold a clinic and an open practice at Clark High School from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

After the event, Boyle and his team will have about two months off before the GEICO High School Nationals at Christ the King High School April 4-6.

"If we qualify we would give them a week off and then start getting ready for it," Boyle said.


Adam Zagoria is a basketball insider who runs ZAGSBLOG.com and contributes to The New York Times. Follow Adam on Twitter.

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