The quest to become All-State Basketball players is what brought Mr. Mars Mellish and I, John Celestand, together way back in the mid 1990’s. Through our quest we became friends and later business partners, but it all started with a little competition that ignited our competitive spirit and has kept us united until today.
It all started back in 1994. The first time I ever saw Mars Mellish was when he sitting by the scorer’s table getting ready to check into the basketball game. He was a skinny freshman who by the look of him, I thought we’d be able to dominate during the game. Mars played for St. Peter’s High School in New Brunswick, NJ. They were the #1 seed in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament that year while going undefeated. I played for the Piscataway Chiefs. We we’re the #2 seed in the tournament and the underdogs after only losing one game the entire year. The game was played at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Although we won the game that day by only a few points, I remember Mars, the young freshman, checking into the game and making a few nice moves to the basket. He also had a very nice jumper for a kid his age. A junior at the time, I scored 22 points leading my team to victory. I even went on to make Associated Press NJ First Team All-State that year. We won the Group IV State Championship, but in the back of my mind, I knew we would hear more out of St. Peter’s High School and the freshman Mars Mellish.
Fast forward a year later and the rematch was set again in the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament, this time in the semifinals at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The arena was packed and we, Piscataway High, were the #1 seed, with St. Peter’s being the #4 seed. I remember jumping out to a 19-0 lead early in the game vs. St. Peter’s. I had never witnessed a scoring burst like it. We were on fire! But St. Peter’s stormed back, with the sophomore Mars Mellish being the catalyst. He scored 29 pts that night. We couldn’t stop him even with a senior dominated team. Although we won the game by four points, I will never forget his performance that night. I knew one day he’d become an All-State Basketball Player.
I tell this story to explain that there were many All-State caliber basketball players from the Central Jersey area back in the day in addition to Mars and myself. But now, you simply don’t see it as much any more, if at all. With the talent mostly in North and South Jersey, Central Jersey has almost been forgotten. For Mars and myself, this Central jersey area is a sense of pride, our stomping grounds where we made names for ourselves. We want to help train the next crop of All-State Basketball players out of Central Jersey, and it starts with the young kids at the bottom. We know what it takes to get to that level and we’d like to transfer that knowledge to the youth.
We have lots of clinics coming up this fall. We’d like to help improve the talent in this area and bring it back to the glory days. We hope to see you there.
1994 Group IV State Champion, 2000 NBA Champion, 1994-95 First Team All-State