a Giant Walk-On at St. John’s
you look up the definition of a “college basketball walk-on” in
Webster’s, you’ll see the expression “practice fodder.” Walk-ons
are hoop-enthused regular college students who, without a basketball
scholarship, try out for the team for the mere honor of practicing
with–and getting beaten up by–the “real players.” They go on road
trips, and sit on the bench during games. “These are the guys
who only play when your team is either 30 points up, or 30 points
down,” said St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis. “And sometimes not even
Yet, in a recent game against Seton Hall, something really strange
happened. Watching St. John’s take the floor, you saw a guy even
the most ardent Red Storm fans have never seen before–and he was
in the starting lineup. Not only that, this mysterious Masked
Man stayed in the game for a full 37 minutes, playing in even
the tightest moments of an important Big East contest–and did
this for one of the top college basketball teams in the country.
He didn’t do badly, either, scoring nine points and grabbing eight
big rebounds. Intense research revealed that “The Great Unknown”
was 6-4 junior guard Andre Stanley–a walk-on, the first of that
obscure breed to start for St. John’s in 24 years.
guess those 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls have finally paid off for
him,” said Jarvis with a warm smile, evincing a great affection
for the kid.
Understand that, these days, about as many college students get
up at 5:30 than start as walk-ons for top college teams. That
Stanley does both speaks loudly to the character of this very
unusual player. Stanley played at New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn,
then John Jay, and went to Globe Institute junior college. He
did get scholarship offers from some “lesser” Division I basketball
programs, such as East Carolina, St. Francis, and Quinnipiac.
But his mom, Stephanie, who was suffering from severe diabetes,
lost a leg at this point. And, Andre decided to stay home with
her in Brooklyn. This meant no basketball scholarship and no free
ride. It also meant walking on at St. John’s, a top program that
would have never considered recruiting him in a million years–and
getting up at 5:30 every morning for the two-hour ride to Queens
doesn’t matter,” said Stanley. ”My mom brought me up all by herself.
Without her, I’d be nothing. Now she needed me. She almost died.
Me being around helps her staying on top of her insulin. It puts
her in good spirits. This was the least I could do for her.”
Needless to say, Stanley is the first to practice every day–and
the last to leave. “I always thought I could play at this level,”
he said. “But I knew of the reality of my chances. I was a walk-on.
But I just kept on working hard and waiting for my shot.”
Once he got it, Stanley took full advantage. He stayed in the
Red Storm starting lineup for the rest of the season, contributing
quietly, consistently, but immensely. “He’s just what we needed,”
Jarvis said. “The kid’s a walking role-model of what hard work
and total commitment can accomplish. I just hope my regular scholarship
players paid attention.”
Stanley also pays attention in class, carrying a B average in
Sports Management. “I hope to be an NBA General Manager one day,”
he says. Don’t bet against him.
Jarvis wouldn’t. “Those are the guys who do the best in life,
the scrappers,” he said. “I will never forget what Andre has done
for this team. The ones who ask for the least and do the most
are the ones you remember the most.”#
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of
the publisher. © 2001.