Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Report: St. Pat’s Could be Banned from Jersey Tournament; Nationals Up Next for Celtics?
St. Patrick of Elizabeth (N.J.), the No. 5 team in the USA Today poll and the top team in New Jersey, could be banned from the upcoming state tournament for holding illegal practices before the start of the season, according to a report on The Star-Ledger’s Website.
The Controversies Committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the state’s athletic governing body, is calling for a suspension from the states and a ban on head coach Kevin Boyle, the Ledger is reporting.
St. Patrick, which features Duke-bound point guard Kyrie Irving and junior Michael Gilchrist, considered the top junior in the nation, will learn its fate Wednesday when the NJSIAA’s executive committee meets in Robbinsville, N.J.
St. Patrick, which has retained attorney Kevin Marino, can appeal at that time. Marino declined comment to the Ledger.
Boyle did not immediately return a text message or pick up his cell phone. The team is traveling to California for a game Saturday against Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft in the Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza.
“I feel bad for the kids, but this just shows the NJSIAA is doing its job,” former New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey told the Ledger. “But they have to be vigilant with high school coaches in terms of illegal recruiting and practices that are going on at times when they shouldn’t be.”
St. Pat’s has won three of the past four Tournament of Champions titles. The Tournament of Champions in New Jersey features the winners of each of the six state groups (four public, two non-public) in a six-team, single-elimination tournament.
If St. Pat’s is banned from the states, one potential option is for the Celtics to play in the ESPN Rise National Invitational slated for early April. Newark St. Benedict’s, which is coached by Dan Hurley and is an independent school not affiliated with the NJSIAA, has participated in the event in the past and will likely be invited this year. St. Ben’s beat St. Pat’s, 65-64 in a recent thriller in Elizabeth.
I don’t know if ESPN would permit a team into this event after it had been banned by its own state athletic association, but perhaps the allure of featuring Irving and Gilchrist on national television would help overcome any doubts.
Calls to two ESPN contacts involved in the event were not immediately returned Thursday night.
When I interviewed Boyle recently, he suggested that playing in the ESPN event was a possibility for his team even if it was eligible for the state tournament.
“There’s that national tournament,” Boyle said. “Most likely we’ll be in the state tournament but you could choose to pass and go in that if it made sense for you.
“Nothing’s ever impossible. You look at all your options. Obviously, you’d have to deal with the state on that as well and does it make sense for you to do it or not. But that would be a possibility.
“You have to get an exemption from the state or decide to go that different route but at this point the option is obviously to be in the state tournament. That would be the first option.”
Two other quick thoughts.
First, if St. Pat’s is indeed suspended from the state tournament, that would obviously mean another school — Plainfield, Paterson Catholic or St. Anthony come to mind — would win the Tournament of Champions. Paterson Catholic, which features Seton Hall signee Fuquan Edwin and star junior point guard Myles Mack, is currently undefeated and ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Super 25.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.