Griffin Leaving Duke for NBA Draft; Davis Staying at North Carolina

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduates AJ Griffin and RJ Davis have chosen different paths for the 2022-2023 basketball season.

Griffin, who just completed his freshman season at Duke, has declared himself eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft, becoming the fifth member of the 2021-2022 Blue Devils to do so. Griffin, a projected lottery pick in the upcoming draft, started Duke’s final 25 games. He averaged 10.4 points per game and shot 45 percent from three-point range.

“I know a lot of kids grow up dreaming they could wear that Duke uniform and play in Cameron Indoor Stadium,” said Griffin in a statement released by Duke. “I was one of those kids growing up, and I am so grateful I had that opportunity. As I declare for the 2022 NBA Draft, I am filled with gratitude. It was an honor to play for Duke and represent The Brotherhood.  It was a dream come true. My experiences have helped prepare me for this moment and I am proud to know I will be a Blue Devil for life.”

RJ Davis, who just finished his sophomore season, will remain at North Carolina for at least one more year and will be one of three starters from the 2021-2022 NCAA DIvision I finalist to remain with the Tar Heels for next season. Davis averaged 13.5 points per game and had a team-high 142 assists in 2021-2022.

“RJ is Carolina Basketball,” North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis said following Davis’ announcement. “He’s one of the best players in the country on the court, in the classroom and the community. His smile, personality and character light up our team, our university and community. Nothing brings me more joy than having RJ back for another season.”

Griffin and Davis were a part of a historic meeting when Duke and North Carolina met at the 2021-2022 final four in New Orleans. It was the first time the two historic programs from campuses less than 10 miles apart played in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina won the battle before losing to Kansas in the championship game.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKE UNIVERSITY

NCAA Title for Stepinac Grad

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate Fred Quartlebaum and the Kansas Jayhawks captured the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship with a 72-69 victory over North Carolina in New Orleans on Monday night.

Quartlebaum is the team’s director of basketball operations and has served on the Kansas coaching staff since 2013.

Stepinac graduate RJ Davis finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and three assists for North Carolina (29-10), which held a 40-25 halftime lead.

“We were just trying to remain positive, and things weren’t going our way,” said Davis, a sophomore guard, of the second half in a postgame press conference. “The shots that we usually make, were missing, were coming up short. Everyone just told each other, just stay together. There was a lot of time left.”

Davis averaged 13.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and finished with a team-high 142 assists.

“We’ve been together this whole year,” said Davis. “We’ve made it this far for a reason. This team was special. I’m glad to share memories and big games that we’ll all talk about and cherish forever. We’ve been through a lot this year, faced adversity, overcame it, and all your hard work that we’ve put in through the offseason, summer time, preseason brought us to this point where we’re at.”

Stepinac Graduates Meeting for NCAA Basketball Championship

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate RJ Davis and his North Carolina teammates will be playing Kansas for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship in New Orleans.

Tipoff is 9:20 tonight on TBS.

Davis is one of two Stepinac graduates participating in tonight’s NCAA championship game. Fred Quartlebaum, who played basketball at Stepinac and Fordham University, is the director of basketball operations for Kansas.

Davis and the Tar Heels advanced to the title game with an 81-77 victory over Duke on Saturday. The sophomore guard finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes.

Following the win, Davis was asked to reflect back now on first-year coach and former New York Knick Hubert Davis posting a photo of the Superdome in the North Carolina locker room at the start of the season.

“It’s crazy to think about. It’s definitely a surreal moment,” Davis said in the press conference. “It just shows how much confidence and belief he had in us from the beginning of the year. He told us we were going to be in this position so we might as well tell our parents to book their tickets now to New Orleans.

“Looking back at it and now being in this position, it’s something I’ll cherish forever. It’s definitely a great feeling right now.”

Quartlebaum arrived in 2013 at Kansas (33-6), which beat Villanova in their semifinal.

After playing at Stepinac, Quartlebaum played four years at Fordham University in the Bronx, where he earned a degree in communications and led the Rams as a senior into the 1988 NIT tournament.

Prior to Kansas, he was an assistant coach at Navy, Towson, Holy Cross, Fairfield, Iowa State, North Carolina, St. John’s and Notre Dame. 

In 2020, Quartlebaum was featured on WIBW-TV for spreading positive messages in his Kansas community during the pandemic.

“I look at breath as such a gratitude that was given to us.” Quartlebaum said in the 2020 interview. “The blessing of life is, is so, so important to me. And I do not take that very lightly at all.”

Click here to see the entire 2020 interview with Quartlebaum.

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA

Griffin, Davis Set for Battle

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduates AJ Griffin and RJ Davis have created a buzz on the White Plains campus before stepping on the court in New Orleans for Saturday’s historic matchup that North Carolina residents waited so many years for.

Saturday’s Final Four meeting between Duke and North Carolina is the first ever between the two schools located less than 10 miles apart in an NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:49 p.m. on TBS.

Griffin is a freshman forward at Duke who is a projected lottery pick if he chooses to enter the 2022 NBA Draft, and Davis is a sophomore guard at North Carolina.

“Not many people from Stepinac make it to the Final Four and to say you played against each other is something we’ll always remember,” Griffin said in a press conference Thursday in New Orleans.

The game will follow a semifinal between Villanova and Kansas, which has Stepinac graduate Fred Quartlebaum on its coaching staff.

“The Stepinac community is so excited about the upcoming games,” Stepinac Athletic Director Michael O’Donnell told Catholic Sports Scene. “There is a great positive buzz about these former alumni accomplishments. The Final Four is a great event each year but this one will be a once in a lifetime for many of us here at school.  I have seen all three of these young men compete and watched them grow into the stars they are today. 

“Hard to believe that they will all be on the court Saturday night on the big stage. I’ll be rooting for each of them.” 

Davis and Griffin earned all-tournament honors in leading Stepinac to the 2018 New York State Federation AA championship, and also were members of Stepinac’s archdiocesan championship teams in 2018 and 2020.

Davis scored a career-high 30 points in a 93-86 overtime win over top seed and defending national champ Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and finished with 12 assists in his team’s 95-63 first-round victory over Marquette.

Davis is averaging 13.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, and has a team-high 136 assists.

Griffin finished with a team-high 18 points, three rebounds, one steal and one block for Duke in its 78-69 victory over Arkansas in the West Region final in San Francisco. The freshman was 7 for 9 from the floor and 2 for 3 from beyond the three-point arc.

Griffin, who was named by conference coaches as one of the top ACC freshman this season,  is averaging 10.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in almost 24 minutes per game this season.

“AJ is a phenomenal talent,” Davis said in a press conference earlier this week. “He can shoot the ball really well. He’s a freakish athlete. When he and I played together, it was a great duo. It was like no one could really stop us in New York. I’m super happy for him, super happy for his success with what he’s been doing this year.”

Duke (32-6) and North Carolina (28-9) are meeting for the third time this season with the two teams splitting the first two meetings with wins on the road. Former New York Knicks guard Hubert Davis is in his first season as North Carolina head coach, and Mike Krzyzewski has served as Duke’s head coach since 1980.

“So right now, we’re just enjoying it,” said Davis. “We’re enjoying each other. We have smiles across our face, but also at the same time, it is a business trip. We’re not just going down there to have fun. We’re going down there to take care of business.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKE UNIVERSITY

Quartlebaum Off to Final Four

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate Fred Quartlebaum is heading to the NCAA Division I men’s basketball Final Four with Kansas after the Jayhawks defeated Miami, 76-50, in the Midwest Region final in Chicago on Sunday.

Quartlebaum is the director of basketball operations for the Kansas men’s basketball team, one of the top seeds in this year’s NCAA Division I tournament. The Jayhawks (32-6) will play Villanova in the Final Four at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Quartlebaum arrived at Kansas in 2013 and has been at Kansas for six Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 tournament championships, three NCAA Elite Eight appearances and one NCAA Final Four appearance.

Quartlebaum played four years at Fordham and holds a degree in communications from the university in the Bronx. A co-captain in his senior season, he led the Rams into the 1988 NIT tournament.

Prior to his arrival at Kansas, he served as an assistant coach at Navy, Towson, Holy Cross, Fairfield, Iowa State, North Carolina, St. John’s and Notre Dame. 

Quartlebaum and his wife Christy have two sons, Trey, who plays for St. Francis in Brooklyn, and Mayson, who is a forward at Kennesaw State.

Davis, UNC Set for UCLA

RJ Davis is having quite a sophomore season and NCAA tournament for North Carolina which plays UCLA in Philadelphia in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament at 9:30 p.m. Friday on CBS.

The Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate is coming off his best collegiate game when he scored a career-high 30 points in a 93-86 overtime win over top seed and defending national champion Baylor. He finished with five rebounds and six assists, and was 8 for-17 from the field, 5 for 10 from three-point range and 9 for 10 from the free-throw line. The made free throws, free throws attempted and field goals attempted a all career highs.

The sophomore guard contributed 12 assists in his team’s 95-63 first-round victory over Marquette.

Davis is averaging 13.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for North Carolina (26-9 overall). His 74 assists are second on the team, and he’s fourth on the Tar Heels in scoring.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTH CAROLINA UNIVERSITY

Griffin Playing Tonight for Duke

AJ Griffin will be in the lineup tonight for Duke when it meets Texas Tech in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament in San Francisco.

Tipoff is 9:30 p.m. on CBS

The Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate injured his left ankle in the second half of his team’s second-round win over Michigan State. The freshman forward was seen walking near the bench area, but never left the court to receive treatment.

Griffin is averaging 10.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, and is shooting 50 percent from the floor and 46 percent from three-point range. He earned a spot on All-Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman Team and was honorable mention All-ACC.

Duke (30-6) won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championship and is the second seed in the West Regional. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is coaching in his final season and will retire at the end of the season.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKE UNIVERSITY

Hayes Still No. 1 in New State Poll

Cardinal Hayes High School remains atop the New York State Sportswriters Association Class AA boys basketball poll with Archbishop Stepinac now at No. 8.

Cardinal Hayes also is still No. 6 in the MaxPreps national poll.

In Class A, Fordham Prep is a new member of the state poll, joining at No. 10. Msgr. Farrell is 15th.

In the Class AA girls basketball poll, The Ursuline School and Msgr. Scanlan are 12th and 14th, respectively.

St. Joseph by-the-Sea remains No. 1 in the Class A girls basketball poll.

Davis, UNC Play Virginia Tech

Archbishop Stepinac High School graduate RJ Davis and the University of North Carolina men’s basketball team will host Virginia Tech at 8 tonight.

Davis is coming off an 18 point, five rebound and three assist performance in a 98-76 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday.

The sophomore guard is averaging 13.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Tar Heels (12-6 overall, 4-3 ACC).

After tonight, North Carolina will host Boston College on Wednesday and North Carolina State on Saturday.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTH CAROLINA

Cardinal Hayes Remains No. 1

The Cardinal Hayes High School boys basketball team improved to 12-0 and remained the state’s top team in the Class AA poll released Tuesday by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

Archbishop Stepinac is fourth, and Mount St. Mary is 12th.

In Class A, Msgr. Farrell is ranked second.

In the girls basketball state polls, The Ursuline School is 12th in Class AA, followed by Msgr. Scanlan at 14.

St. Joseph by-the-Sea is still No. 1 in Class A.