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.
NEW YORK — On the night ESPN ran its documentary on Michigan’s “Fab Five,” the St. Anthony Friars placed their own Fab Five in the NCAA Tournament.
A quintet from St. Anthony’s undefeated national championship team of 2007-08 is going dancing.
Travon Woodall of Pittsburgh, Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas, Jio Fontan of USC, Mike Rosario of Florida and Dominic Cheek of Villanova are all in. Rosario is sitting out a year at Florida after transferring from Rutgers. Cheek was the lone junior on the 2008 team in the group.
“I’m happy that we got in the tournament,” Woodall said Sunday night by phone. “I just wish Mike was able to play.”
Asked what it showed about the 2008 team that five players from the Jersey City school are in the Big Dance, Woodall added: “It shows that everything that we went through in high school is paying off in college, that we all were actually good enough to make it in college and our teams go to the NCAA Tournament right away.”
St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley added: “It’s just wonderful. That was a good group of kids. It will be fun watching. The selection process is absolutely great.”
USC was the lone question mark entering Selection Sunday, but the Trojans will play VCU in a play-in game on Wednesday in Dayton. The winner will be the No. 11 seed in the Southwest and will meet No. 6 Georgetown, one of 11 Big East teams in the tournament.
“I’m just happy for Jio,” Woodall said. “He’s my kid. I was hoping he would get in, especially him only playing half the season” after transferring from Fordham.
Hurley said before USC was announced: “From the time Jio became eligible, they became a much more dangerous team and I hope the committee takes that into consideration.”
Hurley’s current team is undefeated at 31-0 and needs just two more wins in the Tournament of Champions to capture its fourth mythical national title. They begin play Friday as the No. 1 overall seed.
Still, the 2008 team is often compared with the 1989 team in the debate over Hurley’s best ever.
“I don’t get in the comparison business much,” Hurley said. “But I think they [the 2008 team] could hang their resume out there and you could have a serious discussion about that group.”
The ’89 team featured Bobby Hurley, Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker and freshman big man Rodrick Rhodes.
“Three of them were first-round NBA picks — Rodrick Rhodes, Terry Dehere and Bobby Hurley,” Hurley Sr. said.
“Bobby’s the all-time assist guy in the NCAA. Terry’s still Seton Hall’s all-time leading scorer. And Jerry was Defensive Player of the Year at Seton Hall.”
The 2008 team still has time to forge its future identity.
“In this modern, most recent time, they were very, very good,” Hurley said.
With both Pitt and Kansas earning No. 1 seeds, Woodall and/or Taylor could potentially go deep in this tournament.
“I’m going to go to the Final Four,” Hurley said. “I’ll root that I get a chance to see one of the kids get to the Final Four.”
NEW JERSEY ‘HOLY TRINITY’ PLAYERS IN THE BIG DANCESt. Anthony
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
Jio Fontan, USC
Travon Woodall, Pitt
Mike Rosario, Florida (sitting out for transfer)
Dominic Cheek, Villanova
Derrick Williams, Richmond
Corey Fisher, Villanova
Dexter Strickland, North Carolina
Kyrie Irving, Duke
Paris Bennett, George Mason
Quintrell Thomas, UNLV
Rashad Bishop, Cincinnati
Corey Stokes, Villanova
Chris Smith, Louisville
Lamar Patterson, Pitt
Ryan Bacon, St. Peter’s
John Holland, Boston U
Aaron Brown, Temple
Tristan Thompson, Texas **
**Thompson attended St. Ben’s before leaving for Findlay Prep.
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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.