Newsday Player of the Year: VJ Edgecombe, Long Island Lutheran, G, 6-4, Jr.
The question at this point isn’t really about which colleges want VJ Edgecombe.
“It’s almost like who’s not reaching out about him,” LuHi coach John Buck said.
ESPN ranks him as the 12th-best recruit in the country for the Class of 2024 and a five-star prospect. So marquee colleges such as Ohio State and Kansas are among the no less than 17 major Division I schools interested in the shooting guard who won the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference scoring title and was conference player of the year.
Edgecombe, who was also the Gatorade New York Player of the Year, averaged 17.3 points in 12 NIBC games and 15.5 points overall, along with 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.5 blocks in the Crusaders’ run to a state Federation championship.
“He’s good at so many things — his athleticism, his IQ, his competitiveness, his shooting ability, his slashing ability, his defensive ability,” Buck said. “… He just has kind of an ‘it’ factor.”
This was Edgecombe’s first season with the program. He moved from his native Bahamas to Florida in 2020 and did online schooling for two years, and he played AAU ball.
“I think I’ve developed a lot, got better as a teammate, as a leader, being challenged every day in practice by our players,” Edgecombe said. “… I’ve been working on myself, working on my shot, working on my body physically, working on my mind.”
“My focus on college is to find the right fit for me,” he added. “…I just want to be at a school that I’m welcome [at], a school that develops.”
Suffolk Player of the Year: Matt Garside, Kings Park, G, 6-3, Sr.
Garside capped the finest basketball career in Kings Park history by averaging an Island-best 26.9 points, setting the school’s all-time scoring record (1,276 points). He led the Kingsmen (17-8) to their second straight Suffolk Class A title and earned Newsday All-Long Island honors for a second consecutive year.
Already a superlative outside shooter, Garside expanded his game by adding enough ball handling to slice through a defense, a halting pull-up jump shot and an unstoppable floater off the drive.
“He was already tremendous and then he expanded his game through hard work between seasons,” Kings Park coach Chris Rube said. “We got to see how crafty he can play, the beautiful touch he has in the lane and … the quiet confidence of an assassin that he has.”
When a lot was on the line, “he relished the moments and was at his best,” Rube said. “From seeing the way young kids came out to watch him, I believe his impact will be felt in Kings Park for years because he was such a role model.”
Garside made 45% on three-point attempts and 87% on free throws and also averaged eight rebounds and five assists. He will play at Union College.
Samir Bell, Bellport, F/G, 6-3, Sr.
Quick, crafty and with a passion that came out in the biggest games, Bell was the engine that drove the Clippers to a 16-6 mark and a berth in the Suffolk AA semifinals. He averaged 22.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Patrick Burke, Smithtown West, F, 6-8, Sr.
The premier public school big man on the Island, Burke is an All-Long Island selection for the third straight year after averaging 21.1 points and 14.0 rebounds. He will attend Adelphi.
Liam Connor, Manhasset, G/F, 6-6, Sr.
A two-time All-Long Island pick, Connor took on more of a ball-handling role and averaged 18.0 points, 6.6 assists and 4.8 rebounds as Manhasset reached the Nassau A title game. He is going to Colgate for lacrosse.
Luke Cronin, Great Neck North, F, 6-8, Sr.
Cronin sparked one of the Blazers’ best seasons in years by averaging 13.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 blocked shots. He will play at George Washington.
Dave DeBusschere, Chaminade, G, 6-1, Sr.
DeBusschere averaged 19.2 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds in leading the Flyers to a 23-win season and the Long Island Catholic school championship. The NSCHSAA Player of the Year and a two-time All-Long Island selection after being picked to the 2022 second team, he shot 45.4% on three-pointers, sinking 98 in 27 games.
Malachi Moore, Copiague, G, 6-3, Sr.
Moore, the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,775 points, averaged 24.7 points, 10 rebounds and 5.7 steals. Coach Steve Rebholz called the point guard “a coach’s dream” and reeled off his attributes: “Tremendously high basketball IQ,” “fantastic work ethic,” “tremendous, natural leader” and a player with “the ability to finish at the rim with either hand.”
Derek Reed, Southampton, G, 5-11, Sr.
Reed is the fastest player in Southampton history to reach 1,000 career points, needing only 49 games. A two-time All-Long Island pick after moving up from the 2022 second team, he capped a stellar career by averaging 22.2 points, 7.1 assists and 5.0 steals for the Long Island Class B champion.
Jayden Reid, Long Island Lutheran, G, 5-11, Sr.
Reid won the assists title at 6.1 per game in National Interscholastic Basketball Conference play and averaged 15.6 points overall en route to LuHi claiming the Federation Class AA title. Coach John Buck said the two-time All-Long Island first team point guard who scored his 1,000th point during the Federation final is “just a winner.”
Jayden Ross, Long Island Lutheran, Wing, 6-8, Sr.
Ross showed why he’s UConn-bound in a quarterfinal loss at GEICO Nationals, shooting 9-for-11 and scoring 25 points to cap his lone LuHi season. Coach John Buck said Ross, who averaged 11.1 points and 4.0 rebounds on the way to the Federation title, is an “extremely versatile player,” one who’s “a great shooter from three [and] became a really solid on-ball defender.”
Jakkai Stith, Hempstead, G, 6-1, Sr.
Stith scored a program-record 55 points against Hicksville — a game in which he scored his 1,000 point. He averaged 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.2 steals for the season. Coach Jared Weir praised the combo guard, who would like to play basketball and football in college, for his willingness to “do anything he needs to for the team to win.”
Newsday Coach of the Year: John Buck, Long Island Lutheran
Buck guided LuHi to a second-place finish at 10-2 in its first year in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference and then to its first New York State Federation Class AA title since 2019. His Crusaders were 23-2 with 22 straight wins at that point. ESPN ranked them second in the country heading into their first appearance in GEICO Nationals, where they lost by two in their opening quarterfinal game. They finished fifth in the final rankings.
Nassau Coach of the Year: Jerry D’Angelo, South Side
D’Angelo’s Cyclones won 24 straight games after a season-opening loss and finished 24-2 after falling in the state Class A semifinals in Glens Falls. D’Angelo led his team to the program’s first Nassau title since 2012 and first Long Island championship since 1978.
Suffolk Coach of the Year: Anthony Jimenez, Brentwood
Jimenez’s young team started out 2-3, but it developed under his leadership and made it to Glens Falls to play in the state Class AA semifinals. The season ended there, but Brentwood (19-8) claimed its first Suffolk and Long Island titles since 2019.