John Celestand was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 30 overall pick of the 1999 NBA draft, as a 6’4 point guard. He was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1999-2000 championship team where he played alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Mr. Celestand spent several years playing professionally on some of the most famous European teams in Italy, France, Germany and the Ukraine. Currently, Mr. Celestand, through Celestand Consulting, serves as a basketball color analyst for the ESPN family of networks, which include ESPN Regional Television, ESPNU, ESPN3.com and The Big East Network. He covers Big East Conference College basketball games in the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. He also is a radio color analyst for IMG College covering the Big East Game of the Week. In addition, through Celestand Consulting, he serves as a studio color analyst for Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia covering the Philadelphia 76ers.
In 1994 and 1995 he was a New Jersey First Team All-State basketball player at Piscataway High School while also winning two Middlesex County championships. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds in his senior year. He was voted The News Tribune Player of the Year in 1994, while leading his team to the Group IV State Championship over Teaneck High School. He was voted one of the top 50 high school basketball players in the country in 1995.
John received scholarship offers from Rutgers, Seton Hall, Boston College, Florida, Georgetown and St. Joseph’s before finally deciding on Villanova University. He was voted to the Big East Academic All-Star team as a freshman in 1995. Mr. Celestand scored 1,227 career points at Villanova, while dishing out 450 assists, which ranks 9th all time in Villanova history. He graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Media and Film in 1999.
Outside of basketball Mr. Celestand serves as a mentor in the Heroes and Cool Kids Program. He is also a Program Coordinator for the Rutgers Future Scholars program serving youth in Piscataway, New Brunswick, Newark and Camden.
Mars Mellish was a Division 1 standout at Manhattan College where he made the conference All-Rookie Team while being voted Defensive Player of the year. Mars continued his basketball career at NJIT, earning First Team All-Conference accolades, and led the Conference in scoring and steals his senior year. Following the completion of a master’s degree at NJIT, Mars joined the NJIT coaching staff to help lead the Highlanders to their first CACC title.
Mars was a high school graduate of St. Peters High School in New Brunswick. Recognized as one of the best pure shooter in the state of New Jersey, Mars set the County record for most three pointers in one game (10). He was also an All-State, All-County, and McDonald All-American Honorable Mention while attending St. Peters. He received offers from Minnesota, Xavier, Davidson, and Manhattan before finally decided to stay local and attend Manhattan College.
In addition to serving the youth of his community through instructional sessions and various basketball training camps, Mars uses his college and master’s degree to serve as an accountant for the Elizabeth public school system. Mars brings a diverse and unique insight to the game that he passes on to his clients from his past experience, and his continued involvement in competitive basketball leagues and tournaments.
Justin Bailey – University of Hartford/Piscataway High School
David Capers – St. Bonaventure University/St. Peters High School
Samir Sanu – Rider University and William Paterson/Sayreville High School
Mark Simko – Stockton College/South Amboy High School
Shamai Santiago – Middlesex Country College/South Plainfield High School