Spotlight on Bob Hurley

On October 29 MVP Basketball Camp will host a clinic featuring Bob Hurley Sr., who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 along with NBA greats Karl Malone and Scottie Pippin. Not long after that, Bob Hurley was featured on 60 Minutes. Since then he hasn’t exactly rested on his laurels, winning his fourth national title and an unprecedented 26th state championship.  More importantly, he continues to graduate virtually every player who comes through his program, and has sent all but two on to college during a 39 year tenure at St. Anthony’s High School in the tough urban environment of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Coach Hurley has been a guest speaker at MVP Basketball Camp several times, but his increasing attention to his own summer sleep-away camps has prevented him from finding time to attend MVP the past two summers. So I was very excited when he agreed to participate in a Fall Clinic celebrating MVP’s 4000th scholarship award granted since inception. His message often revolves around the uncompromisingly high standards that he sets for his players, his coaches, and even his own sons. Both played D1 basketball. Bobby Hurley Jr. won two national titles at Duke University before a career in the pros.

I’ve had a few opportunities to speak with Mr. Hurley over the years. Despite the tough guy image, the first two things that strike me about Bob Hurley are his love for his family and his devotion to a small and often-times financially struggling high school which doesn’t even have its own gym. It never takes him long to mention his wife Chris, who has been the scorekeeper at every St. Anthony’s home game. And it is no secret that Bob Hurley has been wooed by major institutions with deep pockets and huge arenas, but he feels he can have a more positive influence on kids by staying right where he is. In the documentary “The Street Stops Here,” Hurley says “If I can just get them out of Jersey City, if I can get them into college, their lives will be a lot different.”

The list of of St. Anthony’s players who’ve found success on the college hardwood is very long, and he stays in touch with them long after he’s watched them graduate. The class that won the state title in 2008 (featured in The Street Stops Here) included Rutgers standout Mike Rosario and Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor.

MVP Basketball Camp is certainly not focused on producing D1 talent, but MVP is in the business of building character through the game of basketball. In that way, who could be a better guest speaker than Bob Hurley Sr.? Many of MVP’s campers come from tough urban environments. MVP has now given out 4000 camp scholarships since inception to children whose parents can’t afford camp tuition. We invite you to meet Bob Hurley at our October 29 clinic. All proceeds will fund future scholarship awards. You can register on-line at http://www.mvpbasketballcamp.org/on-line-registration_clinic.html

Kudos to our Coaches and Guest Speakers

At MVP Basketball Camp we like to say that the heart and soul of the program are the great coaches and guest speakers who come back to us year after year. I’d like to recognize the accomplishments of three of them this past basketball season.

Torey Thomas, former MVP  camper, coach, and guest speaker, was named last week as League MVP of the Tauron Basket Liga, the Polish professional basketball league. In voting by the journalists and TV commentators who follow the league, Torey came in ahead of players like Daniel Ewing, former Duke Blue Devil and a second round NBA draft choice in 2005.  Torey’s team, PGE Turow Zgorzelec, finished the regular season in second place and is competing this week in the playoffs. Torey averaged 13.5 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals during the regular season. Torey is planning to return as a guest speaker this summer at MVP

Former MVP Coach and recent guest speaker Cori Chambers also tasted success this past winter in her position as Director of Women’s Basketball Operations for Marist College. The Lady Red Foxes won 31 games during the season against only 3 losses. One of those losses, a narrow 71 – 66 defeat at the hands of overall two seed Duke in the NCAA Division 1 tournament, ended a  spectacular campaign that featured a conference championship, two regular season wins against Big East teams and a tournament win against Iowa State.  Cori also plans to be a speaker again this summer at MVP.

We can’t take any credit for the success of Bob Hurley, Hall of Fame coach at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey, but we can say we have been blessed by his appearance at our camp in past years. Hurley’s team finished the 2010/11 campaign at No. 1 in the national rankings for the fourth time in school history. As always, this year’s team will be sending several players to Division 1 College programs. Hurley’s last consensus No. 1 team in 2007/08 featured D1 players Dominic Cheek (Villanova), Jio Fontan (USC), Mike Rosario (Florida), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), and Travon Woodall (Pittsburgh).

Under the umbrella of MVP’s Youth Development Program, all guest speakers focus on broader skills that are developed at camp, like leadership, teamwork, sportsmanship, and perseverance, and how those skills relate to success at home, in the classroom, and in future career endeavors.  MVP also spotlights health and wellness issues like nutrition that are so important to the development of today’s youth. As soon as the 2011 guest speaker schedule has been finalized we will post it here. Parents are always welcome to listen in on a presentation at camp.

MVP Campers in the News

It’s always fun for me to see pictures of our campers in the sports pages of our local newspapers. During the past two weeks, as the high school basketball season in New York came to a close, I saw several recognizable faces who led their teams to success at the state level.

Marley Giddens, a participant in Girls Varsity Week at MVP for 3 consecutive years, helped her Irvington High School Varsity team to its second consecutive Class B state title. Marley posted 18 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in a 91 – 52 rout of Aquinas Institute of Rochester. Marley’s Hall of Fame coach Gina Maher became a three-time state champion.

Kudos also go to Peekskill High School on it’s first girls’ state championship. Peekskill defeated Averill Park to win the Class A title by the score of 58-35. Jazmin Garcia was one of three players on the team who attended MVP on scholarship awards in the past. In the final, Jazmin netted 17 points, including 10 in the decisive 2nd quarter. She also had 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists for the game. Former MVP campers Asia Jackson and Troi Nolan also played important roles in the championship season.

On the boy’s side, Kahreign Joseph, a senior at North Rockland high school, emerged as one of the top five big men in the Hudson Valley.  Kahreign was an MVP Basketball Camp participant from 2002 through 2008.  He won MVP of his age group the last year he attended the camp. In 2011 Kahreign earned All Conference and All Section honors and will be playing in this year’s All Star game on April 6th.  He will be taking his talents to SUNY Cortland next fall to play for the Red Dragons.

It was also fun to see the picture of Donnie Simmons on the cover of the The Journal News sports section on national signing day for college football scholarships. Donnie attended MVP as a camper for many years, and then worked at the camp for the past two summers. Although Donnie’s basketball skills are considerable, his stardom at Stepinac High school came on the football field. On February 2 he signed a letter of intent to play defensive end at Syracuse University. “It’s probably one of the greatest days of my life,” Simmons was quoted as saying in the Journal News article. “You can only go through this once and it’s a great opportunity to have this in front of me. It’s too much joy to put it into words.”

MVP Basketball Camp is open to campers of all abilities, and a majority of our campers will never experience athletic success at the Varsity level let alone the collegiate level. That is why MVP stresses the importance of academics during every guest speaker presentation and throughout the five weeks of camp. But MVP does see some special young athletes come through the program, and we believe they learn valuable lessons that prepare them well for the competitive nature of sports. I’m sure there have been other standout athletes from the MVP ranks that I have not mentioned. Please feel free to call or email me with their stories for future articles on the MVP website.