Paul Mulcahy, a prep school basketball star from Bayonne, officially committed to Rutgers University, which offered him a full-ride basketball scholarship.
Mulcahy towers over his 34th Street neighbors who watched him grow into the six-foot six-inch point guard he is today. The community supported his family when his home burned down during his freshman year, which complicated his four-hour commute to Gill St. Bernard’s in Somerset County. He grew up playing pickup ball on the courts in Hudson County Park. The courts have some of the best pickup games in the county.
“Starting in fourth grade, I used to play with the adults at Hudson County Park.” — Paul Mulcahy
Mulcahy has already scored more than 1,000 points at Gill St. Bernard’s while leading his team to the semifinals and the finals in his sophomore and junior seasons. He averaged 17.8 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, and 6.7 assists last year and is rated as a four-star recruit by ESPN. Now starting his senior season, his goal is to win the state championship before packing his bags for New Brunswick.
Playing in the park
“Starting in fourth grade, I used to play with the adults at Hudson County Park,” Mulcahy recalls. “The only way I would be able to play is to get them the ball. It’s how I learned to distribute the ball and play point guard. In Bayonne, we have a different style. It’s up tempo and physical. That’s how I like to play.”
In fourth grade, Mulcahy couldn’t have known he would grow to be six-foot-six or a division 1 recruit. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. His mom is six feet and a former basketball player. His dad played high school football for St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, bringing the school its first state championship. He’s the second oldest of six kids, with an older sister currently attending Syracuse University, albeit without playing a sport. The rest are in elementary schools in Bayonne.
Mulcahy will be joining a top-notch program. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are currently sitting at the top of the Big 10 conference after the season started in November, but Mulcahy already knows he’ll be in a position to win this time next year. He’s been following the program closely since Rutgers began recruiting him as a freshman.
“I’ve known this would be a good opportunity for me. I know what my big picture is, and Rutgers puts me in a good position,” Mulcahy said. “They’re building a new facility. They’re in the Big 10. They have a new coaching staff. They consistently get better each year. I feel like I can go in and help right away.”
Rutgers is ready
“I’m very excited about Paul,” said head coach Steve Pikiell in a press release. “He’s a 6-6 pass first point guard. I think he is one of the best passers in the country. He’s a winner, from a winning program. He is a great student that comes from a great family. He’s a terrific basketball talent. He plays the game the right way. People are going to love his tenacity and his toughness. We are so excited to have him join our Rutgers family and watch him make all kinds of highlights at The RAC.”
“He’s a very talented kid,” said Gill St. Bernard’s Head Coach Mergin Sina in the release. “He has a very high basketball IQ, one of the best, if not the best, of anyone I’ve ever coached. He’s simply a winner, he’s all about wins for the team. He can play multiple positions, especially comfortable at point guard. With his size, I think he can help Rutgers out tremendously.”
A good student, too
Like most freshman, Mulcahy isn’t sure what academic program he will pursue. “I do like psychology,” said Mulcahy, adding that the benefit of going to a university like Rutgers is the wide array of quality academic programs it offers.
“Some people in the state don’t look at it as a great school, but it really is,” Mulcahy said. “People outside New Jersey think very highly of it.”
Geography didn’t play into Mulcahy’s decision, but he admits one of the advantages of going to Rutgers will be to be close to his large family.
“I’m very close with my family. They’re a great support system,” Mulcahy said. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to see my little brother’s basketball games. I can be back and forth in two hours.”
After committing to Rutgers, senioritis hasn’t set in for Mulcahy.
“I don’t really have senioritis. You can’t really have that here,” said Mulcahy, adding that academics at Gill St. Bernard’s is too demanding to slack. “I’m not going to rush my senior year. You only get it once, so I have to take it in. Plus, I still want to win a state championship. We lost in the finals or semifinals every year, so I have to win this year.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org