By: Wake Hoops

Apex Friendship 2023-24 Team Preview

2022-23: 12-13 (5-9), 6th in SWAC, Missed Playoffs

Key Losses

Moustapha Diop – Graduated – Playing at Randolph
Noah Toster – Graduated – Playing Football at Chowan
Drew Weschler – Graduated
Terry Hicks – Graduated – Playing Football at Hampden-Sydney

Key Returners

Jadon Green – So – SWAC Freshman of the Year
Kendall Lanier – Jr
Chuks Ezeonu – Sr
Jake Mattachione – Sr
Tristan Kent – Sr

Key Newcomers

AJ Gladieux – Jr – JV
David Major – Jr – JV
Sathvik Pal – Jr – JV
David Lozada – Jr – JV

Projected Rotation

Starters: Jadon Geen, Kendall Lanier, AJ GLadiuex, Jake Mattachione, Chuks Ezeonu
Bench: David Major, Tristan Kent, Sathvik Pal, David Lozada

Deep Dive

The Patriots are coming off a season in which they narrowly missed the playoffs, finishing 34th in RPI. They return just one starter, a slew of bench pieces, and their 22-0 JV squad. Last year was incredibly up and down, starting 1-4, winning nine straight games, and finishing 2-9 over their final 11. Seven of their losses came by eight or fewer points, something accentuated by the fact that they missed the playoffs by a mere 1-2 wins. This Patriot team has a deep backcourt, a great mixture of youth and experience, and a roster full of guys who fit Coach Lowman's system very well.

Coach Lowman's system is relatively famous throughout the area now, thanks to his team's ability to play an unselfish, quick, and high IQ brand of basketball. His teams are at their best when his roster consists of high-IQ guards who shoot it at a high clip and high-motor bigs who understand their role. This team fits that almost to a T, as they have a backcourt that can compete with anyone in the RDU area as far as depth is concerned. They all bring something slightly different to the table and complement each other well within the Apex Friendship system. Their frontcourt doesn't have the same depth that the backcourt will have but Chuks Ezeonu and Tristan Kent are smart, reliable, and play with a high motor on both ends which is exactly what this team needs from that position.

Despite being on JV last season, this team will be headlined by maybe the most improved player in the area, AJ Gladieux. The junior dominated JV last winter and had a massive summer with SW15H Elite. He's very well-rounded as an offensive player and is the perfect off-guard for this team. He shoots it at a high level consistently, finishes above, at, and around the rim with relative ease, and is more than capable of making simple passing reads. He's grown increasingly comfortable with handling a larger workload, inspiring confidence in his ability to elevate to the next level of his development. He has a legitimate chance to earn a 1st Team All-SWAC nod, especially so if his development continues on this trajectory.

As mentioned above, this Apex Friendship team has a backcourt that can go as deep as anyone in the triangle. That depth is led by reigning SWAC Freshman of the Year, Jadon Green. Green contributed behind a deep group of veterans last season and has stepped into his own as one of the top 2026 point guards in the triangle. He's an elite finisher around the rim, passes at a high level, and has shown growth as a shotmaker over the past 8-12 months. Like Gladieux, his emergence as an all-conference level player is vital to this team's chances of surpassing expectations.

Next to Green, Kendall Lanier, Jake Mattachione, and David Major round out the backcourt. All three bring different qualities to the table and they complement each other very well. Lanier is a knockdown shooter who can play either guard spot. He handles pressure well and can guard the ball 94 feet. Mattachione is a sharpshooting wing that, by all accounts, has stepped into the role of veteran leader for this program. He'll be asked to lead while handling a wide array of responsibilities on the offensive end. Major is currently injured and will return within a week of the first game. When he returns, he'll bring his elite ability to pass and create advantages for his teammates as well as his ability to guard on and off the ball.

In the frontcourt, 6'7' senior Chuks Ezeonu will be tasked with handling a majority of the workload. He fits well within the system given his high motor, athleticism, and IQ. He'll be asked to control the glass, protect the rim, set good screens, and finish around the basket, all of which he does at a high level. Ezeonu's progression from year to year has been noticeable, growing more and more skilled each year while consistently looking increasingly comfortable and confident within his role.

As usual, the bench will be a strength for this program. With Sathvik Pal, David Lozada, and Tristan Kent, the Patriots will be able to go nine deep without having to worry. Pal and Lozada both operate as versatile glue guys, able to fill in as an off-guard, on the wing, or even in the post for spot minutes. Kent is the perfect backup big man for this team as he has the IQ, size, and skill set to play the position and does a great job of limiting mistakes. This depth will make them increasingly dangerous as the season wears on, as fatigue, injuries, and other circumstances will limit teams with shorter benches.

It has seemingly become a trend to downplay this program in the preseason, given their poor performance on the eye test. But regardless, this is a roster that is built to win. The biggest thing holding them back right now is the lack of top-end talent, something that would be easily solved by an AJ Gladieux and/or Jadon Green breakout campaign. Expect them to be squarely in line for a winning conference record along with a playoff berth. They have the guard play, the system, and the depth needed to exceed expectations and make noise in the postseason.