High School Hierarchy: 26-30
SLAMonline ranks the top pro-producing high schools of all time.
28. Archbishop Molloy, Queens, NY
NBA Players Produced: Kenny Anderson, Sundiata Gaines, Kevin Joyce, Kenny Smith, Robert Werdann, Brian Winters
Combined Experience: 41 seasons
NBA/ABA Championships Won: 2
All-Star Appearances: 3
Hall of Famers: 0
Total Points: 54
Would you believe that Kenny “The Jet” Smith and — * gently places sunglasses on face * — actor David Caruso went to the same high school? Molloy, in fact, has no shortage of interesting alums, including scandalous former Roger Clemens trainer Brian McNamee and comedian Ray Romano. Hall of Fame muckraking basketball scribe and provocateur Peter Vecsey no doubt had his interest in the game piqued while going to school at Molloy.
And make no mistake, the school is known for its basketball program, under the leadership of Jack Curran, the winningest high school basketball and baseball coach in the country. Curran has coached Molloy’s basketball and baseball teams for more than 50 years. He’s one of the most notable names in a city known for creating basketball legends. The New York Times profiled Curran, including how he came to coach at Molloy, in 2003:
Then, while working as a salesman, Mr. Curran noticed a news item that said a friend of his, Lou Carnesecca, was quitting as Molloy’s basketball coach to become an assistant to another friend of his, Joe Lapchick, the coach at St. John’s.
“So I called up Clair Bee from a gas station,” he said, tossing out the name of yet another sports legend he knew. Clair Bee, the revered basketball coach, had developed innovations like the one-three-one zone defense and written the Chip Hilton sports books for children. On this day, he told his young friend to “go get that job.” Mr. Curran did, and he never left, not even when Boston College asked him 11 years later to be its basketball coach. His mother was in her last months then, and living in the back bedroom. “I didn’t want to put her in a home,” he said.
Curran has coached all six Molloy players who have went on to the NBA.
You’ve probably heard of: When Kenny Anderson was a kid, many people believed he’d be the best point guard New York ever produced. That type of compliment could go to anyone’s head, particularly a teenager’s. Here’s Anderson as a sophomore in high school at Molloy:
“I was a very good basketball player” is Kenny Anderson’s response to questions about a rumor that at one time, a few years ago, he had a pretty high opinion of himself. “And I showed it a little.” “But I’m not cocky now,” Anderson adds quickly, with a smile. Arrogance is an issue with Anderson because, although only a sophomore at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, the 6-foot point guard is almost certainly the best high school basketball player in the city.
Although Anderson didn’t live up to that ‘best ever’ billing, he did go on to have very good college and professional careers. Anderson left Georgia Tech, where he helped lead the team to a Final Four his freshman year, as a sophomore, and was picked second overall by New Jersey in 1991 and paired with Derrick Coleman.
The two players were thought of as building blocks of a future championship team, and although they led the Nets to a couple Playoff appearances, they largely underachieved and both were eventually traded. Anderson finished his career with averages of 13 points, 6 assists and 1 steal per game and he made the All-Star team once as a member of the Nets. He was arguably the quickest point guard in the League in the 1990s and finished in the top 10 in the League in assists four times and steals twice.
Don’t forget about: Kevin Joyce only played three seasons of ABA basketball after strong careers at Molloy and then the University of South Carolina, but he was part of probably the most controversial moment in basketball history.
Joyce played on the 1972 Olympic team, the one that was famously robbed of the gold medal against the Soviet Union. Joyce averaged 5.3 points per game on that team.
Joyce’s best pro season was for Indiana in 1975, when he averaged nearly 15 points per game.
Random fact: It doesn’t get much more random than Peter Vecsey’s NBA Hall of Fame speech. Vecsey managed to chide the Hall of Fame for many of the ABA greats who are not enshrined, discussed the first black people being spotted in Idaho, remembered moments he shared with Pat Riley that Riley couldn’t seem to recall, threw in a few ‘punk asses’ for good measure and ignored the ‘wrap it up’ cues.
Vecsey’s an unpopular figure because he’s the definition of the “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” rumor-mongering scribe, and he also happens to get very personal in his insults of players, which has understandably rubbed people the wrong way.
But he’s also a pioneer in one sense: Print journalists appearing on TV are the norm now, but when Vecsey was showing up regularly on the NBA on NBC in the 1990s, that was a pretty new concept that paved the way for a lot of future writers to gain exposure in other mediums.