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.
Hurley Recalls When Texas’s Kabongo Outplayed Kyrie
NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what kind of player Texas is getting in incoming freshman point guard Myck Kabongo, it is Dan Hurley.
Hurley coached Kabongo at St. Benedict’s Prep before taking over the Wagner College job. Hurley still vividly recalls when Kabongo went head-to-head with Kyrie Irving in January 2010 — and came away victorious.
“To outplay Kyrie Irving and hit the shot to win the game at the buzzer, and then proclaim himself to be the best point guard in the country, it spoke to how hard he worked during the offseason to get better,” Hurley told SNY.tv this week during an open gym at St. Benedict’s.
On Jan. 24, 2010, Kabongo went coast-to-coast and scored on a layup with 5 seconds remaining to give St. Benedict’s a 65-64 victory over Irving and St. Patrick.
The 6-foot-2 Kabongo scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and defended Irving,who scored 12 of his 26 points in the fourth. After the game, Kabongo made the case that he was the best guard in New Jersey.
“I just feel like I have a case,” he told SNY.tv that night. “He [Irving] might be a senior but I feel I do a lot more. I’m a different type of point guard. I’m not a scoring point guard. I just want to show the rest of the country that I’m alright. I’m not just a player. I wanted to show that Canada can produce great players. A bunch of people in New Jersey don’t really know me like that.”
The victory was especially meaningful since Irving and current North Carolina junior Dexter Strickland tallied 21 points apiece in the same game in 2009 when the Celtics hammered St. Ben’s, 88-62, in the Hoop Group Showcase at Rutgers.
“As a sophomore, he got outplayed and then he came back head-to-head in Elizabeth the next year and really outplayed [Irving] and hit the shot at the buzzer to win,” Hurley said.
Kabongo, who finished up at Findlay Prep, is part of a Texas recruiting class that includes forwards Jaylen Bond and Jonathan Holmes, and guards Julien Lewis, Sheldon McClellan and Sterling Gibbs, the former Maryland signee and younger brother of Pitt senior Ashton Gibbs.
During his nine years at the Newark school, Hurley coached a slew of talented players, including current NBA forwards Tristan Thompson and Samardo Samuels, but he reserved special praise for Kabongo, whom he said still calls his wife, Andrea, every year on her birthday.
“[Kabongo] was the most polished player I ever coached at the high school level, and the best player,” Hurley said. “As a point guard, to be able to have the length, size, speed, all the skills, plus the intangible leadership qualities and competitiveness, he was one of a kind, a special guy.”
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.