Friars look to reload with host of international newcomers

The St. Anthony boys’ basketball team is not accustomed to losing in the NJSIAA state tournament. After all, the Friars hold the state record for championships won with 27. They have captured 12 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions titles. The Friars are synonymous with winning in March.
However, each of the last three seasons has ended in disappointment for the Friars, especially with losses to Roselle Catholic the last three years in the overall Non-Public B state championship game.
But the Friars have turned to unconventional methods in order to take on the Roselle Catholics of the world come playoff time.
The Friars have gained three international transfers from points all over the globe. Two are Nigerian, one is a refugee from the Sudan via Australia and later Florida.
And they have added another transfer from Marist, who played 13 games for the Royal Knights last season after transferring from Roselle Catholic.
Got all that? You definitely need a scorecard.
Let’s start with the returnees. Senior guard Jagan Mosely, a First Team All-Hudson Reporter honoree a year ago who has already signed his national letter of intent to attend Georgetown next fall, has returned to be the obvious leader of the Friars.
The 6-foot-4 Mosely, who has a striking playing resemblance to all-time Friar great Terry Dehere, averaged 15 points per game last season. Dehere is serving as the guardian for two of the African players.
While the Friars go through some early season woes, they will look to Mosely to lead the way even more.
“He’s going to play positions one [point guard] through four [power forward] until we have a full team,” St. Anthony Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hurley said. “We’re going to move him around as the game goes on. He’s going to do a bunch of things for us. He’s played four years of varsity. Anyone who plays four years of varsity, some 90 games, is totally prepared for this.”
But Hurley was not ready for not having a full complement of players.
“I’m probably more unprepared to play to our potential than any other group we’ve had,” said Hurley, whose team will open up at the Hoop Hall West tournament in Phoenix this weekend. “We’ve had a bundle of injuries. The African kids have had medical record issues. We won’t be traveling with the kids who will play. Jagan has been the only one to practice every day. I want to put the disclaimer out there that I like our potential, but we’re not ready yet.”
Another returnee is 6-foot senior guard Shyquan Gibbs, the son of Snyder head coach Shelton Gibbs. The younger Gibbs, who signed his letter of intent with NJIT, took a fall in practice and injured a hip recently.
“But he’s finally getting his legs under him,” Hurley said of Gibbs. “He’s our glue guy. He’s smart and understands the sport. He’s a good defensive player and I’m happy he’s back.”
Another key returnee is 6-foot-8 senior forward Kaleb Bishop, who also missed a few weeks of practice in the early going.
“We needed to rush his conditioning to make sure he can go extended minutes,” Hurley said of Bishop, who is headed to FDU next fall.
Seniors Jaleel Lord and Miles Patton are both 6-foot-2 guards who can interchange. Lord is a left-handed slasher who can get to the basket well. Patton is a good shooter who will provide instant offense.
Javaris Hayes is another senior who has experience with the Friars. Hayes is a 6-foot guard.
“He does all the little things we need,” Hurley said. “He’s our best defensive guard and a good on-the-ball defender. He’s very physical and takes the ball to the basket well. He’s an important piece for us.”
Junior R.J. Cole is a solid shooting guard who saw playing time last year after transferring from Newark Tech. The 6-foot Cole has been slowed by a sprained ankle.
“He needs to play like he’s one of the seniors this year,” Hurley said. “He has to use all the experience he has to his benefit and be much more aggressive. He also has to be consistent on both ends of the floor. He can shoot the ball.”
Asante Gist, the 5-foot-10 transfer from Marist, is another good offensive player who is learning to be part of Hurley’s system.
“He’s playing differently,” Hurley said of Gist. “We’re trying to teach him to be a point guard, where he has to play on the next level [Eastern Kentucky]. We’re working on that. He’s a good offensive player. He’s good on the pick-and-roll and all the little things. He’s fit in pretty well with us. He’s comfortable now and learning about our expectations and working at a high level.”
Another returnee is 6-foot-3 senior forward Idris Joyner, who saw a lot of action last year.
“He’s a veteran who knows what’s expected of him,” Hurley said. “He’s prepared to do that.”
Now, here come the African newcomers.
Samson George is a 6-foot-7 junior who transferred to St. Anthony from the Patrick School. He’s a Nigerian who is built like a bullmoose.
“He’s a physical specimen,” Hurley said of George. “Having the African kids has been an eye-opening experience for us, because we never had them before.”
Daniel Mading is a 6-foot-9 junior – for now. Mading is considered one of the best players in the country and is already being heavily pursued by all the major colleges. It’s not known whether Mading will be considered a junior or senior in eligibility.
Mading is a refugee from the Sudan who went to Australia. He then transferred to a school in Florida and is now at St. Anthony under the care of Dehere.
“His only chance to get out of the Sudan was basketball,” Hurley said.
When Mading becomes eligible, he will be a player to watch, because he’s that good.
The last African newcomer is 6-foot-9 sophomore Akuwovo Ogheneyole, pronounced exactly as it is spelled.
That’s why he’s known simply as “Savior,” which is what his first or last name is translated to in English. No one is really sure, but “Savior” is easier to pronounce than his real name.
Ogheneyole is Nigerian. He arrived at St. Anthony weighing just 160 pounds, but since September, he’s put on 25 pounds.
“He does something coaches appreciate,” Hurley said. “He has a high rate of energy and gives us everything he has. He doesn’t play like a traditional big guy.”
So with the newcomers, the injuries, the eligibility, the paperwork, the Friars are truly a work in progress and actually not ready to take on these nationally ranked powers in Arizona. They face Corona del Sol, the No. 1 ranked team in Arizona, in the first game and faced Shadow Mountain, a team coached by former University of Arizona All-American and NBA player Mike Bibby, in the second game.
“We’re getting better every day,” Hurley said. “I think this is a team that we’re not going to worry about the [regular season] record and just concentrate on getting better for the state tournament.”
Count on the Friars to have a better ending to their season than they’ve had the last three years.

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