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Not only did Jayden Hodge start the 2022-23 school year as a freshman at St. Rose High School – a challenging year for any boy or girl starting at a new school and a new chapter in their life – but he began it as his first year of school in a new country.

Hodge and his older brother, Matthew, moved from Belgium to attend St. Rose High School and while every freshman has to learn the layup of his new school and the new routine associated with it, Hodge had a lot more to adjust to.

When basketball season came around, he was also expected to be a top player on one of the Shore Conference’s and state’s best teams.

St. Rose freshman Jayden Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith |
St. Rose freshman Jayden Hodge. (Photo: Tom Smith |

There was a lot of Jayden Hodge’s plate at such a young age, but the 15-year old standout ate it up in his first year in New Jersey. After his impressive stateside debut in 2022-23, the 6-foot-4 guard is the second annual Shore Sports Network Freshman of the Year.

Jayden and Matthew Hodge were two of five new starters for St. Rose on opening night and for the first 11 games of the season, Jayden Hodge was the leading scorer at 17.7 points per game. Even playing without three other transfers – Gioacchino Panzini, Peter Mauro and Evan Romano – St. Rose went 11-0 before its full roster was eligible and the hot start by both Hodge brothers was central to that effort.

Hodge scored 18 points or more in seven games this season and six of them came in those first 10 games. He opened the season with a 22-point performance vs. Red Bank Catholic, carrying the offense in a 42-40 win over a Caseys team that went on to win 16 games in 2022-23.

St. Rose won the Albert E. Martin Buc Holiday Classic in late December, with Jayden Hodge earning all-tournament recognition for averaging 16 points in the three wins, capped by 19 points, five rebounds and three steals in the championship game vs. Red Bank.

Jayden Hodge’s top scoring performance of the season was 23 points, which he reached twice. The first time was a December win over Wall and the second was at Brookdale Community College for the Hoop Group Boardwalk Showcase, where the younger Hodge led the Purple Roses to a 20-point win over St. John Vianney.

For various reasons, Hodge’s scoring slowed down for St. Rose’s final 19 games. There were more standout players with whom to share shots, a battle with the flu and a shooting slump through which he had to work. In those 19 games, his high score was an 18-point performance in a win over Ranney and his next-highest-scoring game was 13 points, which he scored against the Patrick School.

For the season, Hodge averaged 12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.96 steals in 27 games for the No. 2 team in the final Shore Sports Network rankings.

Amid his scoring downturn, Hodge dug in defensively. In that 18-point game vs. Ranney, he also held Isaac Hester – the Shore’s second-leading scorer at just under 22 points per game – to 12 points. In the final two of three meetings against Ranney, Hester shot below 40 percent from the field while shadowed by Jayden Hodge.

Over the course of a challenging schedule, Jayden Hodge twice held Manasquan sophomore Darius Adams (20 points per game) to 17 points on under 40 percent shooting and held Christian Brothers 6-foot-5 sophomore Justin Fuerbacher to a combined 11 points in two meetings with the Colts.

In the final game of the season, the younger Hodge spent most of St. Rose’s 68-59 loss to Roselle Catholic guarding 6-10 Duke commit Mackenzie Mgbako. With Hodge sidelined with the flu, Mgbako scored 27 points on 10-for-15 shooting in a 77-56 Roselle Catholic win over St. Rose on Jan. 21. In the NJSIAA Non-Public B championship game on March 3, Mgbako scored a hard-earned 13 with Hodge on him.

The consistent defense and various displays of offensive prowess and creativity displayed by Jayden Hodge were among the many standout aspects of St. Rose’s 24-5 team that won the program’s first NJSIAA South Jersey Non-Public B championship since 2004. Hodge will enter his sophomore season as one of the Shore’s top players and college prospects, as well as one of the state’s top talents from the Class of 2026.

Shore Sports Network 2022-23 All-Freshman Honors

Freshman of the Year: Jayden Hodge, St. Rose

All-Freshman First Team

Jacob Edgecomb, 6-0, Guard, Point Pleasant Beach

Connor Andree, 6-4, Forward, Christian Brothers Academy

Jack Vallillo, 5-10, Guard, Holmdel

Tyler Cameron, 6-0, Guard, St. Rose

Shaan Nayar, 6-1, Guard, Ranney


Honorable Mention: Dillon Younger, Colts Neck; Jaylin Reeves, Monmouth; Mike Fitzpatrick, Henry Hudson; Randy Holmes Jr., Jackson Memorial; Aidan Saint Louis, Ocean; Kai Pritchard, Donovan Catholic; Josh Barongo, Pinelands; Charlie Marcoulier, CBA; Will Higgs, CBA; Matt Crystian, Red Bank


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