Infusion Of Shore Conference Talent Has Brookdale Men Off To A Torrid Start By Mike Ready


LINCROFT – Last season Brookdale captured their fifth NJCAA Region XIX men’s basketball championship in program history and advanced  to the NJCAA DIII National Championships before losing in the first round after weather-related flight delays got them to the tournament site just hours before tipoff. 


Three All-Regions XIX players from that team graduated along with a number of key contributors so entering this season Brookdale head coach Paul Cisek wasn’t quite sure what he had. Cisek knew he had a solid recruiting class coming in but what has unfolded on the court so far this season has exceeded his own expectations. 

The Jersey Blues are currently undefeated at 14-0 and ranked fourth in the most recent NJCAA DIII national poll.

“Did I expect us to be at the level we’re at now?  No,” said Cisek, who is in his 26th year at Brookdale and picked up his 500th career win earlier this season. “But as recruiting went on and we got the players we were able to get, I knew we were going to be competitive. We ended up getting a couple of guys from the area that are real good players and we ended up getting back a player that played for us a couple of years ago who I think can be one of the top three players in the region.”  

That player is 6-foot-5 guard Jamik Moore, who helped Brookdale win the Region XIX title and place third in the national tournament in the 2013-14 season. 

Moore, an All-Bergen County selection in 2013, is a complete player that does a little bit of everything on the court. He scores, distributes the ball, rebounds and defends. He leads the team in scoring (22.7 points per game – 20th nationally), assists (5.5 per game – third in Region XIX), steals (2.5 per game – 19th nationally) and is third on the team in rebounds averaging six per game. 

Brookdale’s fast start has been supported by three sometimes four – starters recruited out of the Shore Conference including 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Grant Goode (Saint John Vianney), 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Matt Ringle (Marlboro), 6-foot-3 freshman guard Ken LaRocca (Marlboro) and 6-foot-5 sophomore forward/guard Kyle Bradshaw (Manasquan). 

Freshman guards Marc Cerbo out of Middletown North and Anthony McNeil (Asbury Park High School) are two more Shore Conference alumni who’ve been contributing off the bench.

Goode – a 1000-point scorer for the Lancers spent the 2016-17 season playing at Nyack College before deciding to transfer to Brookdale. In 22 games at Nyack he averaged 3.4 points and 1.7 rebounds as a freshman. This season he’s taken his game to the next level with a strong inside game and is second to Moore in scoring (20.4 points per game) and leads the team in rebounds averaging 8.6 boards per game along with 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game. 

In his second season at Brookdale, Ringel stepped into a starting role this season and has flourished. He’s averaging 6.9 points, 7.2 rebounds (second on the team) and 1.6 assists. His 4.2 blocks per game ranks him fourth nationally. 

In eight starts this season LaRocca has been scoring at a 6.5 clip while averaging 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists. 

Bradshaw had 21 starts a year ago when he averaged 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds as a freshman. This season he’s putting up 10.0 points per game and averaging 4.5 rebounds in an expanded role. 

Cisek feels Brookdale is making headway recruiting in the Shore Conference but still faces challenges. 

“I think one of my biggest battles since I’ve been here is the lack of understanding and recognition that kids don’t realize how good we are – especially in the Shore,” Cisek said of his ongoing struggle to get Brookdale the respect they deserve. “That’s a very disappointing factor for me. We have a great coaching staff that has been in the business for a while that can help these players get to the next level.”

Zachary Olukanni is a 6-foot-4 two guard and is a two-year starter for the Jersey Blues out of Teaneck High School where he was a third-team All-Bergen County selection as a senior in the 2015-16 season. In 22 starts last season he averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 boards and 1.4 assists. This season he’s upped his production to 11.3 points per game while averaging 3.9 assist (second on the team), 2.6 rebounds along with 1.9 steals.

Cisek praised freshman guard Fres Cabrera out of Perth Amboy High School who’s one of the first off the bench, saying “he’s automatic energy,he’s fast and quick and could play 40 minutes full pace, speed at 10.” Cabrera is averaging 10.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. 

Sophomore guard Jordan Hernandez (Passaic High School), who was Brookdale’s sixth man last season and scored 32 points in a tournament game, and 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Denzel Lampley (Perth Amboy High School) round out the primary nine-deep rotation for Brookdale. 

Freshman guard Stefan Forbes (Pocono Mountain East High School) was signaled out by Cisek as a young player trying to figure it out “that can really shoot the ball” but the whole part of the game is still catching up to him.  

“This team has the potential to be very good. We can score and roll you over, rebound and run the court really well. I think the best team we’ve played is our own team in practice – our practices are brutal,” said Cisek of his team’s chances at another trip to the national tournament. “If we can get better on defense – and I think they’re figuring that out and if it gets to the end and we’re playing defense real hard, I think this team can make a lot of noise.” 

After reaching the 500-win milestone at Brookdale this season Cisek would like nothing more than to add a second national title and first since the 2012-13 season to his resume. I wouldn’t bet against him.