Olympic Dreams For 2 Former South Jersey High School Basketball Standouts
We are about 3 weeks away from the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London (games of the 30th Olympiad), and for two former South Jersey high school basketball standouts their dream lives for the host country.
For Andrew Sullivan, this will be the highlight of his basketball career. The 32-yr-old will be the team captain for Great Britain’s basketball squad – an incredible honor for the former St. Augustine’s Prep star in the late 90’s.
Sullivan came to Atlantic County at the age of 16, and in his short high school career in South Jersey scored nearly 1,400 points in his 2 1/2 year career. His senior year was Andrew’s shining moment – averaging about 20 points and 11 rebounds a game for a 24-6 St. Augustine’s team. Sullivan was named 1st-Team All-State in 1999, and South Jersey’s Player of the Year.
The 6’8″ forward went on to play college ball for Villanova where he was known for his versatility (played 4 different positions in his Wildcat career), and as a standout defensive player. Sullivan’s junior year (2001-2002 season) saw him make the starting lineup and was the only member of that squad to start every game during that season. He averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds a game, but was far and away Nova’s best defensive player all season.
Sullivan has been a star basketball pro in the BBL (British Basketball League), having been the league’s Player of the Year in 2006. His popularity in the UK, and his experience made him the best choice to be team captain for his home country’s Olympic team that could steal a medal in the tournament.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu is another St. Augustine’s Prep standout who is on the team with Sullivan. The Press of Atlantic City explained today that Bonsu heard about St. Augustine in large part due to Sullivan’s success there. His season in Atlantic County led to a scholarship to George Washington where he was a dominant center for the Colonials from 2002-206.
Mensah-Bonsu averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks a game during his 112 game career in DC, which saw GW nationally ranked in 2006 (team was 26-1 before Pops suffered a season ending injury).
Mensah-Bonsu has played 60 games in the NBA over 4 seasons with 5 different teams (averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds a game). His professional career has been plagued with injuries, stints in the NBA minors (D-League, where in 2009 he was averaging 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks a game for the Austin Toros), and some success in Europe.
The 2 former South Jersey standouts get to live an Olympic dream that could go far, but the host team’s chances were dealt a severe blow when Ben Gordon bailed on the team due to a sore wrist. The 6’3″ guard has averaged 16.5 points a game in his 8 NBA seasons.
Sullivan and Mensah-Bonsu will play along side solid NBA pros Luol Deng (16 points and 7 rebounds a game average over 8 seasons for the Chicago Bulls) and 7-foot bigman Byron Mullens (averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds a game for the Charlotte Bobcats last season).
Like every Olympic competition, there are many great stories that come out. Sullivan and Mensa-Bonsu hope to be 2 of those for the host country and for South Jersey.