By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Cape May County high school basketball community spent much of Friday reacting to stunning news regarding one of the area’s top players.
Martin Anguelov, a sharpshooting sophomore, has withdrawn from Lower Cape May Regional High School and is now enrolled at Wildwood Catholic, officials at both Lower Cape May and Wildwood Catholic have confirmed.
Anguelov, who was averaging 21.7 points per game for the Caper Tigers, will be ineligible to play for Wildwood Catholic for the remainder of this season, as per New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association rules. The mandatory 30-day sit-out period for a transfer who does not change home addresses encompasses the remainder of the regular season and, as per a recently-passed transfer rule by the association, any in-season transfer who plays in at least one scrimmage or game at one school is ineligible to participate in the state playoffs in that same season after transferring to another.
Anguelov would be eligible to play in Wildwood Catholic’s first game next season, as per those rules. However, Lower Cape May is considering whether to challenge that the transfer was done for athletic advantage, according to multiple sources. Transfers for athletic advantage are illegal as per the NJSIAA and, if proven, can result in the athlete being declared ineligible for a full calendar year. If such a potential challenge is made and upheld, Anguelov wouldn’t be eligible to play at Wildwood Catholic until late January of next season.
Lower Cape May athletic director Erik Simonsen would not comment specifically when asked if his school was planning on challenging Anguelov’s transfer on the grounds of athletic advantage. But he did say the following: “We do our best to abide by the rules of the NJSIAA and we’re going to do what is appropriate by the rules of the NJSIAA.”
Anguelov joins a Wildwood Catholic program that is already among the best in South Jersey and has the potential to be even better next winter. The Crusaders are currently 14-1 and ranked among the top five teams in South Jersey by all media polls. The current team has just one senior in point guard Jake McGonigle. Two of its juniors, Taj Thweatt and Jahlil White, have received multiple Division I college scholarship offers.
Sal Zuccarello, the dean of students at Wildwood Catholic, said Anguelov registered at Wildwood Catholic on Friday and is expected to attend classes there for the first time on Monday. He added that he was surprised when Anguelov enrolled at Wildwood Catholic.
Anguelov is the fourth boys basketball transfer into Wildwood Catholic over the past two years. Current Crusader junior Jacob Hopping left Holy Spirit after his freshman season and current Crusader sophomores DaSean Lopez and David Zarfati left Middle Township and enrolled at Wildwood Catholic in February of last year.
“Once a kid is enrolled in another school, we assume he is going to graduate from that school,” Zuccarello said. “Whenever a transfer occurs, it’s always a surprise to us.
“We always educate a transfer on the rules and the consequences they might face,” added Zuccarello, who previously served as Wildwood Catholic’s athletic director. “We also want to make sure this is for academic reasons. Or if there’s a spiritual component or it’s our small class size, college readiness … We want to make sure these are the reasons the transfer is coming. Not just athletics.”
Anguelov was a starter as a freshman and averaged close to 14 points per game for last year’s Lower Cape May team that went 21-7 and reached the South Jersey Group II title game.
Anguelov is considered one of South Jersey’s top shooters. He has made 165 three-point shots in 43 career high school games and is an 88.5 percent foul shooter for his high school career.
This year’s Lower Cape May team takes a record of 11-4 into this evening’s game at Cedar Creek. The Tigers began the season 10-1 before losing three of their last four games. Lower lost to Mainland, 63-52, on Wednesday in a game in which Anguelov was held to four points.
Simonsen said his school and his boys basketball team were looking forward to this evening’s game at Cedar Creek and the rest of the season.
“We have to take care of the kids who play for us. They’re our priority,” he said. “(Anguelov) isn’t one of them anymore.”
Lower Cape May coach Scott Holden and Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese each declined to comment for this story.
Anguelov’s father, Valentin, declined to comment specifically but referred CoastSportsToday to a post he made to Facebook, which read: “I wanted to thank everyone for the love and support (for) Martin Anguelov in Lower Cape May community. Thank you also to the High School of Lower Cape May Regional and especially to coach Scott Holden, to the teachers, to the athletic director Eric Simonsen, to all Martin’s fans and friends, to all people in the school – it’s been (a) special two years for Martin. We wish them good luck in the future.”