By JOHN PAVIA
Special to ZAGSBLOG
ROSELLE, N.J. – Asante Gist has quickly become one of the most coveted young players in New Jersey, not only for his play this season, but also last season and during offseason tournaments as well.
A 5-foot-11 sophomore guard, Gist is averaging 13.5 points and 5.4 assists per game for the surging Roselle Catholic Lions, who have won four of their last five and have a record of 9-4 entering Friday’s tilt against St. Benedict’s Prep in the Newark National Invitational at Essex County College (7:30 p.m.). St. Peter’s Prep meets Gill St. Bernard’s in the first boys’ game at 5:45.
Gist’s play, along with the recent introduction of nationally-rated guard Isaiah Briscoe to the team, has transformed Roselle Catholic into a team capable of repeating as the Tournament of Champions winner with arguably the best backcourt duo in the state.
He spoke about Briscoe’s influence on his game and the team which has eased the burden on him this season.
“Isaiah’s like my big, older cousin so I look up to him for certain stuff that he does and he also looks up to me for certain things that I do,” Gist told SNY.tv. “Every day in practice we work out together so we just try to go off each other and get better. As far as him getting on the court this year [and] helping me with spacing the floor, he’s making everyone get off my back and focus on him, too. He’s obviously a great player and it helps a lot.”
Coming off an 80-57 loss to St. Anthony Tuesday at St. Peter’s College, Briscoe will get to face his old team, St. Benedict’s, after opting to transfer last summer.
“It’s a great test to see where we’re at right now this far into the season,” Gist said. “That’s going to be a great game as well. There’s going to be a lot of people there. A lot of people will get to see how our team is now and what we’re going to be in the future. It’s a great measurement.”
Gist is no stranger to the national recruiting scene as he has previously been invited to USA Basketball tryouts along with 22 other freshmen who were considered to be at the top of their class.
“The schools that have offered me are Rutgers, Seton Hall, Fordham, Penn and the University of South Florida,” Gist said. “I’ve seen interest from Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky and Syracuse, too, lately.”
Indiana and Creighton are looking at Gist as well.