Talk about dedication to one’s high school.
Hudson Catholic’s talented sophomore boys’ basketball standout Shane Dezonie has an interesting commute daily to McGinley Square.
Ready? Dezonie hails from Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania.
That’s right, Dezonie comes to Jersey City to attend high school and travels regularly with his father, Vincent, the 118.5 miles from home to school.
“My father works in New York, so it’s not that bad,” said Dezonie, whose older brother, Shackylle, first attended Hudson Catholic and now plays basketball at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut. “After a while, you get used to it.”
So the Dezonies, father and son, get in the car at 4:30 a.m. and head east to Jersey City. Shackylle Dezonie was the first one to find Hudson Catholic and decided it would be a good place to attend school, both academically and athletically.
“Shackylle found Hudson Catholic before I did,” Shane Dezonie said. “We decided as a family that it would be the best thing for us. I always questioned it, but when I got used to it, I understood why.”
The relationship between the two brothers is very close.
“I look up to my brother a lot,” Shane Dezonie said. “I try to be like him. He has a work ethic like no one else. When he works hard, it makes me work hard.”
As it turned out, Shackylle Dezonie played AAU basketball with former Hudson Catholic standout Luther Muhammad, now playing at Ohio State University. That’s how Shackylle found out about Hudson Catholic and decided to make the commute daily with his father. Eventually, Shane trudged along for the ride.
The Dezonie family all played basketball.
“When we were younger, we would play basketball in the backyard against my Dad,” Shane Dezonie said.
There are two other Dezonie children. Sister Shackysha is the oldest, followed by brother Shawn, then Shackylle and finally Shane.
“We would all play in the yard,” Shane Dezonie said. “It taught me a lot.”
But that commute?
“It was hard, but Shackylle taught me how to use my time better,” Shane Dezonie said.
Both Dezonie brothers were excellent students, enrolled in the Honors Program at Hudson Catholic. The elder Dezonie was a fine basketball player, but younger brother is a superstar in the making.
In fact, Shane Dezonie got thrust into the spotlight last year as a freshman, when he was asked to replace McDonald’s All-American Louis King (now at the University of Oregon) when King was lost for the season with a knee injury.
“I think starting and playing the last eight-to-10 games of the season really helped him,” said Hudson Catholic head coach Nick Mariniello. “He did a really good job.”
So when All-Americans King and Jahvon Quinerly (now at Villanova) and also Muhammad and the elder Dezonie all graduated, it left a major void in the Hawks’ regular rotation. There was never any doubt what position the 6-foot-2 Shane Dezonie would play for the Hawks.
“I think he’s a point guard,” Mariniello said. “That’s his best position. He had to make a bit of an adjustment and become more of a vocal leader. He’s working on that. But his skill set and mindset is as a point guard.”
Even though Shane Dezonie is only a sophomore, he’s already taken on a role of leadership with the Hawks.
“The other guys on the team look up to Shane,” Mariniello said. “They look up to him. Shane has become more of a diverse player as a point guard and he’s a point guard on the next level.”
Mariniello believes that the younger Dezonie has handled himself admirably.
“He has a target on his back now,” Mariniello said. “Last year, other guys had the target. This year, it’s Shane. We needed him to play a bigger role. In the beginning of the year, he had to endure some growing pains. He turned the ball over a lot. But he’s done a great job recently of accepting his role. He’s played his best basketball over the last 10 games.”
Shane Dezonie is his own toughest critic.
“Last year, I got a lot of experience,” Shane Dezonie said. “I think I’m challenged every day to get better. I had to practice harder. Right now, I still think I’m struggling. I can do better as a leader. Since we have such a young team, I had to step up and be more of a leader. That’s what I do in practice.”
Dezonie has done a phenomenal job filling up the stat sheet for the Hawks in recent games. He had 15 points, five assists and six rebounds in a win over Hoboken in the Hudson County Tournament, had 13 points, five assists and five steals against St. Joseph’s of Metuchen in the Dan Finn Classic, had 19 points, six assists and four steals against Dickinson and had 12 points, five assists and five steals against Bayonne. More importantly, all four games were Hudson Catholic victories.
And for his efforts, Dezonie has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
“He’s been very efficient,” Mariniello said. “He’s very unselfish and he’s a very good teammate. I think he’s become more comfortable with how he’s playing. He knows he’s the focal point of the team now. He’s still young. He’s only 15 years old. I just would like him to be not as quiet as he is. He’s a very humble kid.”
And any kid who is willing to travel 120 miles a day to and from high school is a special kid. Shane Dezonie is an excellent student like his brother was.
“My parents [Vincent and mother Michelle] make sure that I stay on top of my grades,” Shane Dezonie said. “It’s very important.”
So is winning. It’s the Hudson Catholic way. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com