Kyrie Irving was a prized recruit out of St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. Everyone who saw him play in high school knew he was destined for great things in the world of basketball, and he proved them right. Irving went on to become a six-time NBA All-Star and an NBA champion in 2016. He’s not even close to finished writing his entire basketball story.
Irving was just as much a winner in high school as he is in the NBA. St. Patrick had won three of four state championships heading into Irving’s senior season, and he was on his way to leading the team to another title in 2010. That was until his season was cut short unexpectedly.
Kyrie Irving’s high school team was banned from the state tournament
In 2010 St. Patrick was ranked No. 6 in the country and No. 2 in the state of New Jersey. The team had won three of the last four state titles and was one of the favorites to win another in 2010.
On the day seeding for the New Jersey state tournament was set to begin, The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s executive committee voted unanimously to ban St. Patrick from the state tournament and suspend head coach Kevin Boyle for three games.
St. Patrick had just beaten Plainfield 82-45 in the Union County Tournament championship. Irving scored 30 points in the contest. The team was set to play one final tune-up against Oak Hill Academy before the state tournament commenced. Before Irving and St. Patrick could even play that game, they learned it would be their last of the season.
Why did St. Patrick get banned from the state tourney?
The NJSIAA banned St. Patrick from the New Jersey state tournament because the team held illegal practices prior to the state-mandated start date for high school teams.
Head coach Kevin Boyle held multiple private workouts prior to the season in order to get college coaches‘ eyes on his prized recruits. Irving was one of them. In fact, he was one of the most sought after players in the entire country. Irving was ranked as the No. 2 recruit in the nation by Scouts.com and No. 3 by ESPN. Everyone wanted a piece of Irving, even if that meant attending illegal workouts.
The NJSIAA sent an investigator to look into alleged recruiting violations by St. Patrick, but what he found was illegal practices being held at the school. The investigator secretly videotaped the workouts, and the film became the most compelling evidence in banning St. Patrick from postseason play.
Kyrie Irving was devastated by the postseason ban
Irving abruptly went from New Jersey state tournament favorite to his season ending in a split second. It was Irving’s senior year, so he wouldn’t be able to cap off his high school career with a chance at a title.
“It was heartbreaking because to cap off my senior year, I wanted to leave St. Patrick’s on a good note with another state championship or a national championship,” Irving told USABasketball.com. “To have our season decided by a judge or committee, it was definitely heartbreaking.”
Irving eventually got over the end of his final high school season because he knew there were brighter days ahead for the star recruit. He found solace in visiting his future school shortly after the ban.
“I was kind of angry that our season ended so soon, but there was a small positive that came out of it,” Irving said. ” After our season ended, I got to go down to Duke for the North Carolina game, and that rivalry is crazy, so I really enjoyed myself down there.”
Irving ended up attending Duke, which became the beginning of his rise to stardom. Now with a Rookie of the Year trophy and an NBA title to his name, Irving can surely get over not having another state championship trophy next to his impressive NBA collection.