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Verona senior Travis Jocelyn, who had a game-high 20 points in the Hillbillies' 45-42 overtime win vs. Bloomfield on Jan. 17th, is the Sideline Chatter/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week as he continues to lead defending North 1, Group 1 champs. (Photos by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
Verona's Travis Jocelyn proves a defensive force inside vs. neighborhood rival Cedar Grove
Verona's Travis Jocelyn has proven to be one of Essex County's better perimeter threats
Verona’s Senior Sharpshooter Jocelyn
VERONA- Verona standout Travis Jocelyn’s rise up in Essex County boys basketball circles has more to do with his escalating level of play than the fact he has grown from a 6-foot-2 sophomore reserve on the 2013-2014 Hillbillies into a 6-5 sharpshooting senior swingman on one of the better Group 1 teams in North Jersey.
And, hiss game has indeed taken off to new levels, and his ability to connect on long-range jump shots has made more Division III college recruiters take notice, plus his team has been winning with regularity as the Hillbillies (8-4, 4-3) are in the thick of the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division title chase along with Millburn, Orange and Bloomfield.
Jocelyn, who scored a game-high 20 points, including sinking four 3-pointers, in this past Tuesday night’s (Jan. 17) exciting 45-42 overtime victory against Bloomfield, is the Sideline Chatter/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week.
“We’re playing well together, moving the ball and also playing very good defense,” said the Verona versatile standout, who has combined with talented teammates, including fellow seniors Jack Farrell and Zack Zaccone, to help elevate the ‘Billies’ stock as a major player to watch in the upcoming North 1, Group 1 state tournament where the Essex County school is looking to build its power point total which was enhanced a great deal with a triumph over Group 4 Bloomfield.
Also on the horizon is the Essex County Tournament which seeds its field on Monday, Jan. 30.
“I really look forward to what’s ahead for us because I see us continuing to play even better basketball as we head toward the county and state tournament,” said Jocelyn. “We won the state sectional title last March but this year we want to make it to the RAC (Rutgers Athletic Center) for the Group 1 final.”
The Verona senior sharpshooter had a transformation over the summer between his sophomore and junior years when he grew three inches in height and also elevated the quality of his overall game, working relentlessly with noted basketball trainer Joe Hohn, who has worked with many college and even NBA players, and Verona’s rising star appreciated the expert tutelage.
“We worked on everything from my ball handling, to improving my shooting and having a good defensive mindset,” said Jocelyn. “Plus, continuing to play AAU ball throughout the spring and summer definitely helped as well.”
Verona, under its impressive, veteran head coach Eric McElroy, plays a more deliberate style of ball that is more reminiscent of a Pete Carill Princeton team than the up-tempo style that is more frequently seen in today’s high school and college games, but Jocelyn enjoys being part of the ‘Billies approach to playing their own brand of fundamentally-sound and effective basketball.
“We play a lot of motion offense, setting screens for each other, and creating open opportunities for jump shots or layups and it’s both a challenging and enjoyable way to play the game,” he said. “I believe I can adjust my game to any style of play, and when I do play more up-tempo I’m perfectly comfortable with that style of play as well.”
Jocelyn, who has an interest in studying sports management or sports psychology in college, i s still narrowing down his college choices which currently include Scranton, Muhlenberg, The College of New Jersey and Widener.
“I will probably wait until the end of the season to make a decision,” he said. “I’m still waiting to her back from a couple of schools and am open to all the possibilities surrounding a strong academic school.
“Right now I really just want to focus on our season.”
Verona suffered an independent setback, 53-43, to a good Wayne Hills team on Friday night (Jan. 20). Jocelyn scored 10 points in a tough loss to one of Passaic County's better programs this winter although the Essex County team was missing two starters, the Zaccone brothers, Zack and Matt, who had to leave town due to a death in the family.
The 'Billies bounced back on Saturday with a 50-39 win over Glen Ridge to improve to 8-4 on the season. Jocelyn led Verona with 14 points while adding four rebounds and five steals in another solid all-around effort.
There is still the excitement of February and – hopefully – part of March once again to be traversed on the hardwood this season by the Verona Hillbillies, and the team does appear to have the necessary ingredients to play with most small pubic school basketball teams it may see along the way in a quest for a second straight N1G1 title, and perhaps beyond.
“You never know what will happen but it’s exciting to be part of a team that is starting to gel, and we’ll just continue to prepare the best way we know how for each opponent and see how far we can take this,” he said. “Right now I am enjoying my senior year and hopefully we can do some great things the rest of this season, including winning a Group 1 state championship.”
Student-Athletes selected for the Sideline Chatter/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week award receive a free speed and agility session at the state-of-the-art 360 facilities located at 25 Greenbrook Road in Fairfield. For more information on all the sessions available at 360, call 1-877-787-0360, ext. 1005 or log on to http://wwwnj360fitness.com
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Verona's Travis Jocelyn (right) hoists up a side jumper over Bloomfield's Myle Toppin (1)
Hillbillies' Travis Jocelyn (20) looks to make use of pick set by teammate Zack Zaccone (14)
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