Dayton standout Alicea about to wrap special basketball career he’s produced for Bulldogs; School’s all-time leading scorer focusing on what college he will take his talents to

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALICEA FAMILY – DJ Alicea, Dayton’s all-time leading scorer, will next make the decision where he will play in college.

Duran Jaylen Alicea, better known to his family, friends, teammates and coaches as “DJ”, opted to play his entire high school career in the town he moved to and at that town’s public high school.
No regrets. Just a lot of growing as a basketball player, the instruction he received was just fine, and a lot of points scored.
As Dayton’s all-time leading scorer with 1,518 points approaches state tournament competition for the final time, Alicea (6-1, 175) is now concentrating on where he may play at the next level.
It could be at a place such as Lakewood’s Division 2 Georgian Court. The possibility to move on to a school out of state also exists.
“I’m fine with staying in-state or going elsewhere if that works out,” said Alicea, who has scored in double figures the past 70 games.
Considered among the state’s top guards among Group 1 schools as his sophomore season spilled over into his junior campaign, Alicea became a full-time varsity starter as a sophomore, the temptation was there for Alicea to examine the possibility of transferring to a non-public.
“I first thought about it after my freshman year,” said Alicea, who as a ninth grader played on the freshman and junior varsity teams at Dayton before reaching varsity status and starting several games during the 2016-2017 campaign. “I also considered it before junior year.
“I went to visit Gill (Gill St. Bernard’s), but it wasn’t really for me. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was comfortable where I was and became very confident here at Dayton.”
Alicea, who surpassed 1,500 career points at Cranford Thursday, first credits JV coach David Steinman with the progress he began to build.
“We had many conversations that helped me look at the game from a different angle,” said Alicea, who will turn 18 on May 8. “There were certain things when I was a freshman that I didn’t look for that I now do, that now comes in to play with the experience I gained.
“Things such as different ways to exploit defenses and get open looks and even things on defense.”
Moving on to varsity meant getting acclimated to head coach Bob Martin. Alicea admitted that was a significant transition that required an early adjustment period.
“He’s someone that’s helped me all four years,” Alicea said. “At first I had to get used to him and as I did get used to everything he was teaching me he became a big part of my basketball progress.”
A starter of varsity games at Dayton all four of his years, Alicea moved to Springfield from Bloomfield in seventh grade. Also the owner of a solid 3.6 grade-point average and 1090 SAT score, Alicea has received interest from Georgian Court, Fairfield, Ramapo, William Paterson, Mercer and Kean.
Georgian Court has offered. Alicea planned on attending Georgian Court’s final home game Saturday, Feb. 29. There are nine players from New Jersey on Georgian Court’s roster this season.
“Taking everything into consideration so far I’m not set on one place to go at the moment,” Alicea said. “I’ve done some research on Georgian Court and they do have my major, which is business administration.”
As far as wanting to play at the next level, playing in AAU Tournaments made Alicea think about the possibility of playing in college beginning his sophomore year. He played for the NJ Bulldogs out of North Brunswick for coach Malcolm Stoby. Alicea is not sure whether he will continue playing at that level of competition once his senior season concludes.
“The (AAU) tournaments attracted attention to me,” Alicea said. “I was putting up numbers at Dayton, but the only problem was who we played against.”
On a senior laden team last season Dayton finished 17-7 and reached the North 2, Group 1 semifinals as the sixth seed, falling at eventual champion and Group 1 state champ New Providence 60-58.
This year’s squad is the ninth seed for the N2G1 field and will play at eighth-seeded American History of Newark in first round action Monday, March 2. American History lost at home as the top seed to New Providence 49-46 in last year’s sectional final.
“Last year it was five seniors and me and we played together for three years and the chemistry was there,” Alicea said. “Coming into this year it was a brand new team.”
Dayton has rebounded nicely from a 3-7 start to enter state tournament play at 11-12, winners of eight of its last 13 contests.
“We had to figure it out quick and now we’re starting to play with a lot of confidence,” Alicea said.
Against Group 3 Cranford on Thursday, Dayton held its own before falling 62-58 at Cranford’s Martin Gymnasium. Alicea poured in 21.
“I think we can do some damage in our state tournament,” said Alicea, who earlier in the year passed 1978 graduate Kevin Doty as Dayton’s all-time leading scorer.
Alicea, who wore No. 20 his freshman year before switching to No. 2 because of his favorite player Kyrie Irving, had this to say about becoming Dayton’s all-time leading scorer: “it’s really special. For me to know that it will probably be up there for a while since it was broken for the first time in a while is a good feeling.”
Playing both the point and the two guard at Dayton, positions he feels he can both perform at in college, Alicea averaged roughly 19 points as a sophomore, 23 last year and 21 this season.
“Handing the ball off or playing off the ball are what I do throughout the flow of the game,” Alicea said.
Two other Division 2 schools Alicea mentioned were Warner University in Lake Wales, Fla. and St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt.
“Before my senior year I could shoot the ball, but would not get as many shots up as I do now,” Alicea said. “Shooting, dribbling, making layups, dunking are all things I’ve improved upon.”
Alicea will be remembered as one of the top backcourt players to come out of one of Union County’s small school programs. He made the decision to stay at Dayton and has flourished for the Bulldogs the past four seasons.
Sometime relatively soon we will next find out at what college Alicea will take his talents too. After how he has progressed as a scorer and player for the Dayton Bulldogs the Springfield resident has proven that he will be a worthwhile addition to a fine Division 2 program.

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