Kearny native Thiele joins 1,000-point club at St. Peter’s Prep

Brendan Thiele vividly remembered being a freshman at St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City and noticing a banner that hangs prominently and proudly in the Prep gymnasium.

It’s a banner with the nine names of former Marauder hoop standouts that were fortunate enough to score 1,000 points in their respective careers at Grand and Warren.

Thiele quickly became aware of the banner and just wondered.

“I remember the first time I stepped into the gym and seeing the banner and the names,” said Thiele, a Kearny native and currently a senior forward with the Marauders. “I thought, ‘Maybe one day.’”

Incredibly, only nine varsity players at St. Peter’s have been graced to reach the prestigious milestone. When you consider the rich and storied tradition of basketball excellence at St. Peter’s, it makes reaching the plateau even more remarkable.

As the high school basketball season was winding down to the last precious few games, Thiele knew that he was approaching the number, remarkably almost simultaneously along with teammate Shayne Simon.

When Thiele and Simon entered St. Peter’s, the basketball team was in complete turmoil. The former head coach had resigned and seven players decided to transfer from the school in mass exodus. It appeared as if the Marauders were going to struggle for a very long time to come.

But the new coach Alex Mirabel gave both Thiele and Simon to play varsity basketball right away. In reality, he had no other choice.

“We stepped into a unique situation,” Thiele said. “We were blessed with a great opportunity.”

Over the course of their careers, both Thiele and Simon never gave a thought to reaching the milestone. They have been starters for four years, but reaching the elusive 1,000-point plateau?

“To be honest with you, it’s something as a coach that you want to happen,” Mirabel said. “But it’s very rare, especially at St. Peter’s Prep. It’s a tight club, a special club. Once you get 1,000 points, you’re among the elite.”

The 1,000-point club at St. Peter’s Prep is an exclusive group.

It began with the legendary George Waddleton, who scored 1,005 points during his days at Prep, graduating in 1953, before he headed off to a brilliant career at Holy Cross. Waddleton passed away in 2011 after a long illness, but he set the tone for the rest of the elite group.

Mike Pedone was next in 1956, followed by Jim Barry in 1961.

It continued on in 1962 with Frank Nicoletti, who went on to play at Syracuse University and became the roommate there with the legendary NBA All-Star Dave Bing. Nicoletti and Bing were the first roommates of different color in the history of Syracuse.

There was a gap of 21 years before another player would enter the 1,000-point club when Ed Lawson joined the group in 1983. Lawson went on to play for Manhattan College.

A decade later, Jack Gordon joined. He would eventually become the all-time leading scorer with 1,693 points, a record that more than likely will stand forever. Gordon went on to play at Monmouth, leading the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament.

In 2011, two teammates eclipsed 1,000 points, when Keith Lumpkin and Kevin Walker both joined the club in the same year. Lumpkin would go on to play football at Rutgers. Walker was a star point guard at nearby Caldwell College, eventually playing professionally with the Jersey Express of the American Basketball Association.

And finally, four years ago in 2012, Austin White scored 1,000 points before heading off to NCAA Division I High Point.

And that has been it.

That was, until last week. First Simon scored the 1,000th point of his career in a win in the state tournament against Delbarton. Simon is headed off to play football at Notre Dame in the fall.

Then, just two days later, it was Thiele’s turn to join the club, eclipsing the mark in the Marauders’ win over Seton Hall Prep to advance to the sectional title game against Don Bosco Prep, a game that the Marauders dropped in the final second of the game by a single point.

The two close friends, two long-time teammates, get to put their names on the banner in consecutive games. That does not happen, especially not at Grand and Warren, where 1,000-point scorers were extremely uncommon.

“Those two guys committed themselves since Day One,” Mirabel said. “They’ve seen the huge change in culture and they’re a huge part of that. They’re helping us to do things the Prep way.When Brendan first came to Prep, we didn’t see him as a 1,000-point scorer. We soon found out that we had something special, because he worked hard. But I never thought he would be a 1,000-point scorer.”

Thiele said that elevating his game to where he was considered among the very best in Hudson County was because of his relentless work ethic.

“Coach Mirabel molded me into the player he wanted me to have,” Thiele said. “I played the way he told me to play, then everything came naturally after that. I was blessed with a great opportunity right away to play varsity, but then I worked my tail off. Scoring the 1,000th point was the culmination of my hard work.”

For his efforts and his remarkable career, Kearny native Thiele, the son of the funeral director Steve, has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week. Thiele is the final honoree for the winter sports season in the 2017-2018 scholastic sports campaign.

Thiele said that he always had reaching the milestone in mind.

It was always a dream of mine,” Thiele said. “It’s huge for me and my family, for the school. It feels really good. It’s huge to have had Coach Mirabel by my side. He always pushes me and knows what I’m capable of.”

“Brendan always does things the right way, the Prep way,” Mirabel said. “His parents should be proud, because they raised him the right way as well. His parents raised him to become a very good young man.”

Thiele will head to the United States Military Academy at West Point in the fall and will play basketball there.

“At first, I didn’t think I could see myself playing there,” Thiele said. “But I went for a visit and saw that it’s an amazing school. There’s a great environment there. It’s an incredible responsibility with my service to the country. I can see great things happening at Army. I became very comfortable with the coaching staff there. I had a conversation with my parents and we all decided that Army was the best place for me. I’m happy with the decision I made.”

Thiele knows that if he gets a little homesick, he’s only a stone’s throw away.

“That was another huge factor,” Thiele said. “If I want to, I can be home in an hour and 15 minutes. Staying close to home was very important.”

It was also a decision that pleased Steve Thiele, who attends almost every single one of Brendan’s games.

“It was very important for my Dad,” Thiele said. “He’s my No. 1 fan and my biggest critic. I’m happy for him.”
Although the Marauders’ season ended last week, Thiele is content with the way his career turned out _ and getting to share the historic moment with his friend and teammate just two days apart. It’s almost unthinkable how Prep didn’t add a single name to that banner for at times 20 years. But now, the elite club gets two new members two days apart.

“It’s insane,” Thiele said. “I can’t even put it to words. Both of us worked our tails off. It’s a great feeling to do it so close. Shayne is a great friend. He’s always been there for me. When he’s playing in the NFL, we can both come back and look at this banner. Some 30-to-40 years from now, we will see our names up there. It’s just incredible.”

Thiele said that he received the greatest compliment after scoring the 1,000th point. It came from a fellow member.

“Keith Lumpkin shook my hand and said, ‘Welcome to the club,’” Thiele said. “I’m never going to forget that. I still can’t believe it happened.”

It’s safe to say that people at St. Peter’s Prep won’t soon forget the latest member of the 1,000-point fraternity for his contributions on and off the hardwood.


St. Peter’s Prep senior forward and Kearny native Brendan Thiele. Photo by Jim Hague

St. Peter’s Prep senior forward Brendan Thiele (left) makes a move to the basket while closely guarded by Hudson Catholic’s McDonald’s All American Jahvon Quinerly in the 2017 Hudson County Tournament championship game. Thiele is headed to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point in the fall. Photo by Jim Hague

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”