The boys basketball season tips off next week and NJ Advance Media is highlighting the best players back in the state in 2021.

That continues today with a look at the top playmakers returning in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference.

Essam Assaf, Elmwood Park, So.

Assaf was an all-division player as a rookie and should be even better in his second year at Elmwood Park. The young guard averaged 9.6 points per and 4.1 rebounds per game a season ago. Assaf also made an impact on defense, with 1.9 steals per game.

Jamar Belfield, Paterson Charter, Jr.

As a sophomore, Belfield carved out a role for himself, scoring 9.8 points per game for a team that won 27 games. Senior guard Jahar Pierce is another key contributor who will be back for the Passaic County squad.

Ashanti Caviness, Bogota, Sr.

Caviness is one of a trio of top scorers back for Bogota this season, returning after putting up 14.6 points per game. Bogota is also back with senior guard Taj Collins and junior forward Evan Meberg in the mix. Both players averaged double-digit points for a team that won 19 games.

Zachary Cook, Garfield, Sr.

Cook was one of the leading scorers last year for a strong Garfield team with 12.3 points per game. The senior is back for another run this year and will be a go-to scorer for this squad. Senior Mihajlo Bebekoski will also be a veteran leader for Garfield.

Jeremiah Donmartin, Leonia, Sr.

The senior wing averaged 15.1 points per game last winter and will be one of the best players back in the conference this season for a team coming off a 19-win season. Leonia needs to fill holes in the lineup, but having Donmartin back is key.