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.
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“The problem we had with the Jersey kids is until they got dormitories [at St. John’s], kids from Jersey were not comfortable going to stay in the Jamaica Estates apartments,” St. Anthony’s Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley told me Tuesday morning by phone. “New York City kids didn’t mind living at home and getting a check. Once the dorms went up, that changed a little bit. But I still think it’s the connection of Jersey City seems to be like another planet. It’s like we’re in a different solar system.”
Former St. John’s coach Steve Lavin hardly recruited New Jersey at all, with the notable exception of former Roselle Catholic point guard Isaiah Briscoe, who ultimately chose Kentucky over the Red Storm.
“Steve Lavin was a California guy,” Hurley said. “I don’t think if you ask [Cardozo coach] Ron Naclerio or [Christ the King coach] Joe [Arbitello], the guys that are coaching over in the city, how often he was in their gyms, it would probably be similar.”
But under first-year coach Chris Mullin that may begin to change.
Barry “Slice” Rohrssen, who has known Hurley for some two decades through his stops at Pittsburgh, Manhattan and Kentucky, stopped by the Jersey City school’s gym on Monday primarily for 6-foot-10 2017 forward Daniel Mading, but also to honor Hurley.
“We talked a little bit and he watched practice,” Hurley said. “I pointed out kids that they should potentially look at, so Daniel Mading was one, [6-8 2017 forward] Samson George was another that he needed to look at, R.J. Cole, a junior guard, and the sophomore kid Savior [6-9 2017Akuwovo “Savior” Ogeneyole].
“Contrary to what they all do, people can’t put a rating on a kid before he’s into senior year because a lot of stuff happens,” Hurley added. “So when a coach comes in, I think you should give them all the kids who with work could be able to play at that level.”
Mading holds offers from St. John’s, Seton Hall, Pitt, USC, LSU, Arizona State and Kansas State, among others.
“I think he can really shoot it,” Hurley said. “He’s very graceful. Really loves to play. Good personality. Not strong and he’s probably a stretch four right now because of his ability to shoot the ball, but he’s gotta get a lot physically stronger. Since September, he’s been lifting weights and working hard.”
Rohrssen, who successfully recruited Briscoe to Kentucky from Roselle Catholic, has been making the rounds in and out of Jersey in recent weeks. He also saw 6-11 2017 big man Nick Richards of St. Patrick’s on Saturday. Kentucky coach John Calipari and two assistants were also in this fall to see Richards.
“We’ve been good friends a long time so he enjoyed hanging around,” Hurley said of Rohrssen.
Both Hurley and Mullin are Naismith Hall of Famers whose schools are relatively close, so it would make sense for St. John’s to foster a relationship with St. Anthony’s despite their lack of a recent mutual history.
“We haven’t seen Chris at the gym,” Hurley said of Mullin. “You always go with connections and Slice and I have been friends for a long time, so I think this will be one of his schools, St. Anthony’s, and that doesn’t mean that Chris Mullin won’t come over. But clearly Slice is very comfortable coming over and he’s been coming over to the school for 20 years at a variety of different places and always warmly received.”
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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.