NJ.com has announced its Union County Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Team of the Year, and Coach of the Year, and divisional honors


Simeon Wilcher, Roselle Catholic, Sr., G

Going to be honest here; prior to an ankle injury that would sideline hum for 10 games, senior forward Mackenzie Mgbako probably held a slight edge over Wilcher – the 2021-22 UCC Player of the Year – for this honor. Wilcher was no doubt outstanding in the same starting lineup as Mgbako for the first 14 games, averaging 14.3 points and 5.4 assists, though Mgbako was at 16.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and had demonstrated the same knack for delivering clutch plays against top-flight competition as he had the previous three seasons at Gill St. Bernard’s. Wilcher likely could have scored more during that early-season stretch, though was content on offering his strongest services as a facilitator and defender. With Mgbako out from Jan. 29 to Feb. 27, Wilcher had no alternative but to increase his scoring output, and did at 16.0 ppg. in those 10 games while never surrendering his position as a playmaker, averaging 5.3 assists. The 6-4 North Carolina commit averaged 15.3 ppg., 4.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.8 steals and he scored 1,201 points over his career.


Jim Reagan Jr., Union Catholic

Union Catholic was just 6-7 on Jan. 19 and 8-8 by Jan. 28, though also probably only a few successful plays away from a significantly stronger record. Four of those losses came by six points or fewer, and against a challenging schedule that included St. Peter’s Prep, Linden, Elizabeth and Saddle River Day. It seemed as if Reagan’s team could make a marked transformation if he had just one more strong viable scoring option available. That happened on Feb. 1 when senior Chimeziri Okeoma, a transfer from Plainfield, became eligible and also an immediate factor for the Vikings. He scored 23 points in that first game, a 58-57 victory over Union, and wound up leading the team over the final 14 games at 19 ppg. Of course, a hotshot scorer is only part of the answer, because UC could have been a fractured collection of envious players if not for Reagan’s perfect blend of discipline, direction and diplomacy. Okeoma’s presence strengthened Union Catholic’s offense, yet it also seemed to bring the best out of the Vikings’ other players, such as sophomore point guard AJ Altobelli, sophomore center Yaw Ansong, dangerous senior guard Raheem Williams and versatile junior forward Terrance Wood. Reagan’s club would win 12 of its final 13 games to claim the program’s first Non-Public A state championship since 1987 with a 38-37 victory over St. Peter’s Prep. Reagan was a ball boy on that team for head coach Neil Horne, Jr., and later an assistant for his dad, Jim Reagan, Sr., at his alma mater. Reagan is 291-225 in 21 seasons.


Union Catholic

There is no doubt that the eligibility of Plainfield transfer Chimeziri Okeoma as of Feb. 1 had a profound impact on the Vikings’ fortunes moving forward. In his first game that day, the senior dropped in four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 23 points in a 58-57 win over Union. Union Catholic was now equipped with an established scoring threat for the season’s stretch run, though his addition was still only part of the equation. The Vikings’ other players were hardly free now to concentrate on only other elements of the game while the 6-0 Okeoma lighted up the scoreboard, because certain teams would now be focusing on the crafty guard and thereby forcing others to still produce. That was true in the next game, in fact, as then-No. 8 Manasquan limited Okeoma to a modest 12 points while 6-11 sophomore center Yaw Ansong struck for 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and 5-10 sophomore guard AJ Altobelli scored 13 points and recorded four assists in that 59-53 UC upset. Union Catholic would then win 11 of its next 12 games with clutch perimeter shooting from senior Raheem Williams, key rebounds from sophomore forward FK Muntari, and consistent rebounding, defensive and playmaking contributions from junior forward Terrance Wood and senior guard Keyshawn Winchester, along with continued strong play from Altobelli, Ansong and Okeoma, who averaged 19 ppg. to lead the team. The Vikings’ only loss in that run came against No. 1 Roselle Catholic, 72-56, in the Union County Tournament semifinals. It was an experience they would draw upon in the final weeks as UC claimed its first Non-Public A championship March 3 with a 38-35 victory over then-No. 3 St. Peter’s Prep.



Team of the Year: Scotch Plains-Fanwood (16-10)

Player of the Year: Matt Nervi, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Sr., G

Coach of the Year: Tim Simo, Summit (16-10)


Team of the Year: Roselle (23-5)

Player of the Year: Tahdir Carson, Roselle, Sr., F

Coach of the Year: Ryan Huber, Brearley (9-11)


Team of the Year: Union Catholic

Player of the Year: Simeon Wilcher, Roselle Catholic, Sr., G


Coach of the Year: Jim Reagan, Jr., Union Catholic (21-9)

Final rankings

  • 1-Roselle Catholic (22-5)
  • 2-Union Catholic (21-9)
  • 3-Linden (24-7)
  • 4-Elizabeth (15-8)
  • 5-Westfield (17-10)
  • 6-Roselle (23-5)
  • 7-Scotch Plains-Fanwood (16-10)
  • 8-Union (11-11)
  • 9-Summit (16-10)
  • 10-Oratory (14-12)