St. Anthony (N.J.) High recently won a third RivalsHigh boys basketball national title under the leadership of coach Bob Hurley Sr., a testament to his legacy and his ability to convince some of the best athletes in the tri-state area to leave their home schools and come play for him. Of course, Hurley didn't need another national championship to prove that he draws the best athletes, regardless of what they have to do to get to St. Anthony. All he needed to prove that was staring right at him during each practice and game of the past three seasons.
According to the New York Daily News, two of St. Anthony's most prominent junior stars commute more than 90 minutes each day just to attend the Jersey City school of fewer than 250 students. That commuting time means that Rashad Andrews of Queens and Jimmy Hall of Brooklyn are up and heading for their doors at 5:15 and 6 a.m. every day, respectively.
The additional three hours a day total (roughly 90 minutes spent each way) is a heavy toll to place on any teenager, but both budding St. Anthony stars said their commitment to getting to school each day was worth the experience of playing on a Hurley-coached St. Anthony team.
"You hear [Hurley] talk about previous teams and all the players he's had, and you say to yourself, 'I want to be one of the people that he talks about in his stories,'" Andrews told the Daily News. "To accomplish something like we did this season, with all the work and travel, yeah, it was all worth it."
Like many of Hurley's past great proteges, Andrews first saw St. Anthony play at a tournament when he was in eighth grade. Still weighing his high school decision, the preternaturally talented swingman eventually told his mother that he wanted to attend St. Anthony's rather than similarly tradition-steeped hoops hotbed near his Queens home, like Christ the King and Holy Cross.
Despite all the extra effort it would take, Andrews' mother said she was on board, for one reason: Hurley.
"He's a great coach," Debra Andrews told the Daily News. "He really works hard and loves the kids."
And, in the case of Andrews and Hall, Hurley clearly appreciates the extraordinary commitment each has made to his program, despite the additional hassle and strain on their daily life caused by long public transit trips to the school.
"They're committed," Hurley told the Daily News. "Rashad is here 45 minutes before the first class.
"It's going to be truly worth it if we get through this spring and summer and coaches are now talking to their families about scholarships. When they look back to the commitment they made to traveling and all the hard work, they're going to be proud of themselves."