2023-24 Blair Academy Player Profiles



Blair Academy is a dynamic, coeducational boarding school where 475 high school students pursue a superior college preparatory education. It is located on 425 acres in Blairstown Township, New Jersey, approximately 60 miles west of New York City. The school was founded in 1848 by John Insley Blair was an American entrepreneur, railroad magnate, philanthropist and one of the 19th century’s wealthiest men. Full tuition to attend Blair is $65,000 per year.


Blair’s athletic teams primarily compete in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League, a very strong prep school league with participating schools from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Blair’s head boys’ varsity basketball coach Joe Mantegna arrived at Blair in 1999 and has built Blair into a national prep school basketball powerhouse. Blair’s record since Coach Mantegna’s arrival is 442-155, including 15 of the last 22 Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) titles and 20 trips to the NJ prep “A” state finals, where Blair earned state titles in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2019. He is assisted by Pennsylvania High School and SA Cardinal veteran coach, Jon DeJesus. Their 2023-24 roster is as follows:


#0 Deron Rippey Jr. (2026) 6’2 point guard from Brooklyn, NY - Holds multiple D1 offers, including St Johns and Syracuse. Rippey is a consistent favorite of the scouts that have seen him play. Now that he is a starter, he is the process of putting up a big season ahead for the Bucs. He is an explosive guard that is also a lockdown defender. High IQ player who has a knack for finding his teammates for easy buckets. Has become a 3pt threat which makes it even harder to guard him. 

#1 Abdoulaye Sylla (2024) 6’1 guard from Harlem, NY - Sylla is an athletic guard who can answer the call when needed to provide depth at the guard spot.

#2 Lukas Schmid (2024) 6’2 guard from Toronto, Canada (Tufts University commit) - A tough physical guard with a college-ready body. A three year player for the Bucs who has improved each year. He is consistently assigned to guard the other team’s best player and does not back down from that challenge.

#3 Kenneth Thompson Jr. (2026) 6’10 forward from Brooklyn, NY - A promising prospect in the sophomore class. He has court vision and a feel for the game that you do not see at his size. He will benefit from working every day against the other D1 sized bigs in the Blair frontcourt.

#4 Jayden Williams (2024) 6’0 guard from Bronx, NY (Bucknell University commit) - Williams has started laying down a big senior season. He is a strong and compact guard who uses his frame to get into the paint. High IQ player who makes his teammates better and is the leader of this team. Currently shooting over 40% from 3. 3.9 gpa

#5 Lionel “LJ” Saunders Jr. (2025) guard from Bronx, NY - Saunders will provide a spark and scoring off the bench this season. He is a knock down 3 point shooter who uses his craftiness to get to this spots.

#10 Callen Murphy (2026) 5’11 guard from Manhattan, NY - A promising prospect. His job this season will be to add skill to his game…and depth to the roster.

#11 Jack Bailey (2025) 6’11 forward from Manhattan, NY - Holds multiple D1 offers, including Boston College, St Johns, Georgia Tech and, most recently, a Cal Berkley, offer. He has great his size, but he is also able to knock down the three or take his opponent off the dribble. He is steadily improving and will be leaned on heavily this season. 4.0 gpa

#13 Andrew Park (2027) 6’6 forward Seoul, South Korea - Park is a strong and physical body who can consistently step out and knock down the three. He was slated to be a key part the rotation this year, but is now currently out with a foot injury, that may cost him his season. 1580 SAT, high gpa.

#14 Xavier Mantegna (2024) 6’1 guard from Blairstown, NJ - A shooter who can stretch the floor and will provide depth at the guard spot.


#15 Jayden Hernandez (2025) 5’10 guard from Queens, NY - A tough and scrappy New York City style guard who provides depth at that position.

#21 Zach Kolaja (2025) 6’4 guard from Montclair, NJ - Kolaja is an explosive athlete in the open court and knock down shooter from 3. He is working to expand his role in a very crowded, high talent rotation this season.

#22 Brendan Oliver (2025) 6’6 guard from West Orange, NJ - Oliver is an athletic bouncy wing. Has improved his jump shot over the summer. He is also another player making it hard on Coach Mantegna to find enough playing time.

#24 Eric Ihekwaba (2024) 6’10 forward from Poughkeepsie, NY - Holds D1 offers from Navy and University of New Hampshire, while garnering interest from numerous other D-1 programs. A physically opposing force who is a nightly double double. He is improving weekly. 3.9 gpa

#25 Ryan Hempfling (2025) 6’10 forward from East Moriches, NY - Hempfling steps in and adds valuable minutes this season. He can step out and shoot the 3, and has a knack for excellent passing at his size. 3.7 gpa


Blair opened their 2023-24 season with a convincing win over Worcester Academy at the heavy weight National Prep School Showcase in New Haven, CT. To catch the rest of Blair’s 2023-24 schedule and results, click here

The team’s new X account is @blairacademymbb