Lyndhurst’s Pizzuti shows he belongs at NJBCA North-South All-Star Classic

Anthony Pizzuti said he was shocked a few weeks ago when he was told that he was one of the selections for the annual New Jersey Basketball Coaches Association North-South All-Star Classic.

Once that initial shock wore off and as the game approached, it became about showing that he belonged in the exhibition featuring many of the state’s top seniors.

On Sunday, Pizzuti, the first Lyndhurst player selected for the game in more than 30 years, made the most of the opportunity scoring nine points for the North team in its 108-105 victory over the South in the game, held at Rutgers Prep in Somerset.

“It was definitely a great experience to meet these kids and play with the best kids in the state,” Pizzuti said. “It was fun being on the team with some of these kids that are going to good colleges and stuff to play basketball. It’s kind of cool playing with new people. It was just a great show and there’s a lot of people there too. It was fun, it was just a good day.”

In total, 31 seniors from across the state were selected, including five Division 1 basketball commits. So while many of the top players such as Peyton Seals of Ramapo, Hudson Catholic’s Alex Massung and Jeremy Clayville of St. Joseph of Metuchen were already household names, Pizzuti entered as a relative unknown as a three-sport standout, who didn’t play major AAU basketball in the spring or summer.

“For me, I just felt like I needed to earn my respect, I guess,” said Pizzuti. “There was a little chip on our shoulder. Obviously you want to win, everyone wants to win. We all wanted to beat the south team.

“I feel like a lot of people had a chip on their shoulder though. A lot of kids wanted to prove stuff so it was a good, competitive game.”

With so much talent on both sides, even Pizzuti acknowledged he wasn’t sure how he measured up. It wasn’t until a practice at River Dell High School last week when the 6-foot-4 forward realized that he fit right in with this group.

“It definitely eased the nerves,” Pizzuti said. “During the practice I was getting a lot of buckets, so it was pretty, I was like, oh, maybe I can keep up with these guys. I was nervous at first. I really didn’t think I could keep up with them all. But I held my own.”

For Pizzuti, Sunday’s North-South All-Star Classic caps off a two-year run that is as impressive as any Lyndhurst boys basketball player has ever had.

This season, Pizzuti averaged 23.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game to lead the Golden Bears to an 18-10 record, a NJIC National Division title and a second consecutive berth in the Bergen County Jamboree.

He became the program’s career scoring record on Jan. 31, when he put up 35 points in a win over Cresskill, breaking the record held by former Atlanta Braves draft pick Scott Ryder in 1987.

As a junior, Pizzuti averaged 20.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game as he emerged as one of Bergen County’s breakout stars for a Lyndhurst team that went 16-10.

Pizzuti ends his high school basketball career with 1,350 points.

Pizzuti said he has offers to play basketball for multiple Division III programs as well as some walk-on opportunities for Division 1 programs. Those are just some of the opportunities that await Pizzuti, who has offers to play baseball and football in college as well.

With those offers to play baseball and/or football, he knew that Sunday could prove to be his final basketball game. Regardless, it was a memorable experience he won’t soon forget.

“It was definitely great. It’s something I could talk about forever,” said Pizzuti. “I was playing with some kids that are going to big D1 schools so it was definitely really cool and it’s a good way to go out.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)