A year ago, Robert Myers was devastated by the news that he was declared academically ineligible to play basketball at Kearny High School.
“It was a lost season for me,” Myers said. “I was really hurt by it. I knew that I could play, but then I couldn’t play. It was my own fault. I knew I was wrong. It hurt me to watch everyone else play and I couldn’t.”
So Myers had to remain on the sidelines until his grades improved. The 6-foot-6 junior played only nine games after regaining his eligibility, but for all intents and purposes, it was a disaster, especially for someone who had hopes and aspirations of playing college basketball.
Colleges don’t necessarily recruit players who aren’t eligible to play, so sitting in the stands didn’t exactly enhance his chances.
“I knew that I had to come back and prove to people that I could play,” Myers said. “So it was really important for me to get my schoolwork done and get my grades up in order to play.”
As Myers began his senior year with the Kardinals, there was a new head coach in Bill Mullins, who was once the Kearny head coach and returned this season.
“I had faith in Coach Mullins,” Myers said. “He was my driver’s education teacher and he coached my brother Samuel in volleyball. I was excited to have a new coach. It was a new year, a new look, It was a big change. It was my last chance, my senior year. I had to make sure that this was going to be a good year.”
Mullins was really looking forward to having the opportunity to coach Myers.
“I tried to get him to play volleyball with his brother,” said Mullins, who has been the head boys’ volleyball coach at Kearny for the last seven years. “I knew of him. I knew his family.”
Mullins was also familiar with Myers as a basketball player, considering that Mullins spent the last two seasons as the head coach at neighboring rival Harrison and the two teams faced each other in each of the last two seasons.
So Mullins was well aware of Myers’ talents and immense potential.
“I never had a player who had that kind of physical presence,” Mullins said. “He could run up and down the floor. He has incredible jumping ability. He has tremendous wing span.”
Myers was ready to make a major impact with his new coach.
“I knew I was good enough to play basketball at the next level,” Myers said. “It was always a dream of mine to play at the next level. I had to prove myself this year.”
Since the 2018-19 season began, Myers has been a man on a mission, especially defensively and especially when it comes to blocking shots. In fact, Myers has been swatting shots aside at record-breaking pace.
“He’s the best shot blocker I’ve ever seen,” Mullins said. “He has great timing. He times the ball so well and gets to shots so many times. He intimidates shooters and changes shots. He’s just a tremendous shot blocker.”
Myers has enjoyed incredible success in knocking away shots. He had seven blocked shots in a recent win over Princeton , but his best performance was last Wednesday, albeit in a 58-51 overtime loss to St. Peter’s Prep.
Myers had an astounding 11 blocked shots in that game, a game where he registered a triple double, scoring 13 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and the 11 blocks. Myers had 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks against Princeton and he had 11 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four blocks and four steals against Memorial.
Last Saturday, Myers had seven points, six blocks, four steals and 10 rebounds in the Kardinals’ 64-58 overtime win over Bayonne, the Kards’ third straight overtime contest.
For his efforts, Myers has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the last week.
Myers said that he has worked hard at improving as a defensive player.
“I knew that I could get blocks,” Myers said. “But never this much. My defense has been getting better. In the past, I was a lazy defensive player. But now, I read the play better and I’m able to get to shots. I read the play and know where I have to be at the right time.”
Myers was stunned by his statistical outcome in the St. Peter’s Prep game.
“That triple-double (double figures in three categories) was really wild,” Myers said. “I really didn’t expect that. It was really wild. I never paid too much attention to stats. But there was something special about that.”
Mullins thinks that Myers can become a more dominant threat if he works harder on offense.
“I think he could become a better offensive player,” Mullins said. “He could become more of an offensive factor. He’s working hard at it. We’re trying to get him to work around the basket.”
But it’s the defense that is making Myers stand above the crowd. He’s averaging nearly six blocked shots per game, which has to rank him among the very best in the state.
“People are going to have to notice him,” Mullins said. “He stands out physically. But I’ve never had anyone block shots like the way he has. Getting three or four is a lot. He had 11. That’s an uncanny ability. It’s incredible. He’s doing well with the rebounding and the shot blocking. We’re starting to get people to notice him.”
Myers now has to get his grades in order.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” Myers said. “My grades have improved from last year. I hope I can get a chance to play in college.”
Myers said that he now has a tutor to assist him with his schoolwork.
“I learned a lot about myself last year,” Myers said. “Last year was bad. I couldn’t let that happen again. I’m just grateful to get the chance. So far, so good.”
Kearny senior forward Robert Myers. Photo by Jim Hague