It began with the legendary George Waddleton, who scored 1,005 points during his days at Prep, graduating in 1953, before he headed off to a brilliant career at Holy Cross. Waddleton passed away in 2011 after a long illness, but he set the tone for the rest of the elite group.
Mike Pedone was next in 1956, followed by Jim Barry in 1961.
It continued on in 1962 with Frank Nicoletti, who went on to play at Syracuse University and roommates with the legendary NBA All-Star Dave Bing. Nicoletti and Bing were the first roommates of different color in the history of Syracuse.
There was a gap of 21 years before another player would enter the 1,000-point club when Ed Lawson joined the group in 1983. Lawson went on to play for Manhattan College.
A decade later, Jack Gordon joined. He would eventually become the all-time leading scorer with 1,693 points, a record that more than likely will stand forever. Gordon went on to play at Monmouth, leading the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament.
In 2011, two teammates eclipsed 1,000 points, when Keith Lumpkin and Kevin Walker both joined the club in the same year. Lumpkin would go on to play football at Rutgers.
And finally, four years ago in 2012, Austin White scored 1,000 points before heading off to NCAA Division I High Point.
And that has been it.
Brendan Thiele has passed that banner in the Prep gym thousands of times over his four years. He remembers being a freshman and seeing that banner for the first time.
“I remember the first time I stepped into the gym and seeing the banner and the names,” said Thiele, currently a senior forward on the Marauder roster. “I thought, ‘Maybe one day.’ ”
Shayne Simon is an All-State football player at the Prep, the recent recipient of the prestigious Maxwell Award as the top defensive player in the state. He’s headed to the University of Notre Dame in the fall. Simon just also happens to play basketball for the Marauders.
Simon also never thought he would become a member of the prestigious group.
“I never thought my name would be on that banner,” Simon said.
When Thiele and Simon entered St. Peter’s, the basketball team was in complete turmoil. A coach had resigned and seven players decided to transfer in mass exodus. It appeared as if the Marauders were going to struggle for a very long time to come.
But the new coach Alex Mirabel gave both Thiele and Simon the chance to play varsity basketball right away. In reality, he had no other choice.
“We stepped into a unique situation,” Thiele said. “We were blessed with a great opportunity.”
“I didn’t have many goals playing basketball,” Simon said. “I just have fun playing basketball. It didn’t take long to see how much football took over for basketball. But I always had the love for both sports and always wanted to play.”
Over the course of their careers, both Thiele and Simon never gave a thought to reaching the milestone. They have been starters for four years, but reaching the elusive 1,000?
“To be honest with you, it’s something as a coach that you want to happen,” Mirabel said. “But it’s very rare, especially at St. Peter’s Prep. It’s a tight club, a special club. Once you get 1,000 points, you’re among the elite.”
Last week, both seniors started to get close to the echelon, both climbing within 25 points of the mark.
Last Saturday, when the Marauders defeated Delbarton in the opening round of the NJSIAA Non-Public A North tournament, Simon became the 10th member of the 1,000-point club.
Just two days later on Monday, it was Thiele’s turn to join the club, eclipsing the mark in the Marauders’ win over Seton Hall Prep to advance to the sectional title game against Don Bosco Prep that was scheduled to be played at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway after press time Thursday.
The two close friends, two long-time teammates, get to put their names on the banner in consecutive games. That does not happen, especially not at Grand and Warren, where 1,000-point scorers were extremely uncommon.
“Those two guys committed themselves since Day One,” Mirabel said. “They’ve seen the huge change in culture and they’re a huge part of that. They’re helping us to do things the Prep way. Shayne has been the leader on the court. He doesn’t complain about a thing and hasn’t missed a practice in four years. To me, he’s legendary. He’s a man in my opinion and does everything the right way. Everyone respects him.”
Added Mirabel, “When Brendan first came to Prep, we didn’t see him as a 1,000-point scorer. We soon found out that we had something special, because he worked hard. But I never thought he would be a 1,000-point scorer.”
Simon was asked about sharing the moment with Thiele.
“It’s that amazing,” Simon said. “I’m so proud of Brendan. I’m glad it happened for the both of us. To be in the position to do that is a great feeling. I’m just happy that my team made it this far. It’s a great feeling to know our names will be on that banner.”
“It was always a dream of mine,” Thiele said. “It’s huge for me and my family, for the school. It feels really good. It’s huge to have had Coach Mirabel by my side. He always pushes me and knows what I’m capable of.”
Thiele will head to the United States Military Academy at West Point in the fall and will play basketball there.
“It’s an amazing school,” Thiele said. “It’s an incredible responsibility with my service to the country. I can see great things happening at Army. I’m happy with the decision I made.”
As for sharing the 1,000-point moment with Simon, just two days apart: “It’s insane,” Thiele said. “I can’t even put it to words. Both of us worked our tails off. It’s a great feeling to do it so close. Shayne is a great friend. He’s always been there for me. When he’s playing in the NFL, we can both come back and look at this banner. Some 30-to-40 years from now, we will see our names up there. It’s just incredible.”
Thiele said that he received the greatest compliment after scoring the 1,000th point. It came from a fellow member.
“Keith Lumpkin shook my hand and said, ‘Welcome to the club,’” Thiele said. “I’m never going to forget that.”
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com. You can also read Jim’s blog at www.jimhaguesports.blogspot.com.