Jersey Shore hoops a proving ground for some

BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer

Staff Writer

Mike DeCorso no longer looks at the Jersey Shore Basketball League as a summer tune-up for college.

The former Colts Neck High School star is now a college graduate (New York University) looking to play professionally, possibly in Europe or Australia.

“I’m going to try and stay in shape and try and play ball in Europe, next year hopefully,” said DeCorso. “I’ve talked to some agents and some of the guys here.”

DeCorso plays for the USA Financial team, the defending JSBL champions, and one of his teammates, Tim Begley, is due back from Europe this week and can give DeCorso some valuable pointers about the ins and outs of playing there.

Begley, who starred at Christian Brothers Academy and then at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Ivy League Most Valuable Player, plays professionally in Germany, and his club was playing for the league championship last week.

The 6-5 DeCorso is not the same player he was three years ago when he began playing in the JSBL, looking for serious competition and with an agenda of what he had to work on for the upcoming college season.

“Then, I was basically a jump shooter,” he recalled. “I’ve established a more all-around game and improved my strength. I’m a stronger player.”

The experience and lessons he learned at the JSBL rewarded DeCorso with his best season at NYU. He made the All-ECAC Second Team and earned Player of the Week honors. NYU won the ECAC championship.

“It was a great way to go out,” he pointed out.

USA Financial is DeCorso’s team away from NYU, and he was happy to see his summer teammates again.

“It’s great to see the guys and catch up on things,” he said.

For Dan Werner, the JSBL was an opportunity for him to play some serious basketball in a very competitive league. Werner, another ex-CBA standout, comes to the JSBL with an NCAA championship ring. He played on the University of Florida team that won the NCAA tournament this winter.

Jason Westrol, like Werner, is back at the Shore after his first year in college. The Manasquan High School All-Shore guard plays at Bentley College in Boston.

Werner plays for UBS Financial, and among his teammates is an ex-Red Bank Regional star, Billy Gilligan, who is now one of the elder statesmen in the league. For him, the JSBL is a chance to continue playing the game he is so passionate about.

That’s also what the JSBL is to Duane Ailey, a 1,000-point scorer at Howell High School. Ailey played his college ball at Husson in Maine and is now an accountant working in Manhattan. But he’s never far away from the hardwood.

The league is filled with former area high school stars, like Werner and Westrol, who are now playing in college.

Manny Ubilla, the player who started Freehold Township’s ascension as a Shore power, had a tremendous season at Fairleigh Dickinson and is playing for T&T Coast. Jerome Hubbard, who starred at Neptune and Brookdale Community College and is now playing for Stockton, is one of his teammates.

Raritan’s Qa’rran Calhoun, who was a freshman at St. John’s University last winter, is suiting up with Rod’s Tavern, as is guard Matt Presby, the Manalapan grad who is at Gettysburg.

Then there is Stern’s Trailer, a team consisting of former Monmouth University players, including Corey Albano, Marques Alston, John Giraldo and Raheem Carter. They can reminisce about their college days while continuing their days as teammates.

The JSBL plays its games at the McCann Center at St. Rose High School in Belmar. There are doubleheaders at 7:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The regular season goes until July 25 with the first round of the playoffs July 30.