Spring Lake’s Mabrey A Star in Jersey Shore Basketball League
Former CBA standout is making waves
When Spring Lake resident Roy Mabrey starred on the Christian Brothers Academy basketball team the past few years, he always thought that point guard would be the position he would one day play at the next level.
However, a year playing under coach Jere Quinn at St. Thomas More School, a highly-regarded prep school in Oakdale, Conn., has broadened Mabrey’s horizons – and his game. Mabrey, a 2010 CBA graduate, has molded himself into a lethal scorer able to play on the wing and attack his man at will.
That dramatic improvement was on display in Thursday night’s Jersey Shore Basketball League game between Mabrey’s Team Shore and a veteran Larson Ford squad featuring some former professional and college players. Even though Team Shore was on the wrong end of a 115-80 loss, Mabrey exploded for a game-high 38 points to continue his strong start in the NCAA-sanctioned summer league at St. Rose High School.
It continued a strong start in the JSBL for Mabrey, who also has a 28-point game to his credit.
“(The season at St. Thomas More) really helped a lot because I got exposure to physically gifted kids every game,’’ Mabrey said. “My one-on-one skills improved a lot because we played one-on-one every day in practice. I started working on scoring more, and having to go against top players in the country only benefited me.’’
Against Larson Ford, the 6-foot-2 guard scored on an array of stepback 3-pointers, finishes in traffic in the lane, offensive rebounds and fast-break opportunities. Team Shore was being buried 32-6 in the second quarter, but an offensive eruption by Mabrey helped it cut the deficit to 52-41 by halftime.
While the JSBL isn’t exactly known as a defense-first league, the fact that he was able to break down defenders who are more experienced, older, and more physically developed bodes well for him as he embarks on his collegiate career. Mabrey is headed to Division II St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, N.H.
The experience of facing the stiff competition in the JSBL has also given Mabrey a taste of what lies ahead and what it will take to one day make a living playing basketball.
“These guys all know the game, especially that (Larson Ford) team,’’ Mabrey said. “I think the thing that's best that I tell everybody is that they play as hard as they can the whole time because they never know who's watching these games. There may be scouts looking at them. They need to play hard, they want to win, and that helps us to get better for the future.’’
As a senior at CBA during the 2009-10 season, Mabrey was one of the top players in the Shore Conference for a team that won its second straight Shore Conference Tournament title and did not lose to a conference opponent all season. He developed a reputation as one of the most clutch players in the area, including a heroic fourth-quarter performance against Point Beach in the SCT quarterfinals to help the Colts fend off the upset.
Some of his former foes are now his teammates this summer, as two members of that Point Beach team, Mike Rotando and Jordan Wejnert, play for Team Shore. The squad of former Shore Conference standouts has taken its lumps so far in the JSBL with only one win in the first two weeks.
A three-year varsity player at CBA, Mabrey averaged 12.7 points, 5.2 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals as a senior. He was more of a pass-first point guard in charge of running the team, while at St. Anselm’s he projects to be more of a combo guard who is capable of big scoring nights.
Mabrey has also played with and against some of the top players in the nation during the last two seasons. As a senior at CBA, he went head-to-head with then-St. Patrick’s star point guard Kyrie Irving in the Battle on the Boardwalk showcase event at Monmouth University. The Cleveland Cavaliers made the 19-year-old Irving the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft on June 23.
At St. Thomas More, one of his teammates was Andre Drummond, a 6-foot-11 center who is ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2012 by several scouting services. He projects as an NBA lottery pick and could end up being the second No. 1 overall pick that Mabrey has crossed paths with during his career.
“There was no such thing as a bad shot because (Drummond) would just grab the rebound and throw it down,’’ Mabrey said before smiling.
Mabrey also can get a pretty good workout just by playing in his backyard. The running joke is that he might not even be the best player in his family. His younger sister, Michaela, is a Manasquan senior who has verbally committed to play for Notre Dame, which reached the women’s NCAA Tournament final this past season. His other sister, Marina, an incoming Manasquan freshman, has the potential to be even better than Michaela.
However, Mabrey’s primary inspiration for his own career is another local standout, Jason Westrol. After starring at Manasquan, Westrol went on to have a brilliant career at Division II Bentley University in which he earned Division II Player of the Year honors as a senior. Westrol, who plays for T & T Coast in the JSBL, played professionally in Romania this past winter.
Mabrey agonized over the decision to pursue a scholarship at a low Division I program or play in a high-level Division II conference. Westrol showed that a player can still achieve the dream of playing basketball professionally without playing for a Division I program.
“It was a hard decision because being able to say you played D-I can be a big thing,’’ Mabrey said. “I wanted to go to a place where I was able to come in and make an impact immediately. The ultimate goal is to go play overseas when I'm done, and (Westrol) showed that if you can dominate at this (Division II) level, it can happen. The sky is the limit.’’