UNION, N.J. — There are only three high school basketball coaches in the Naismith Hall of Fame.
Ernest Blood, who was inducted in 1960, led Passaic (N.J.) High School to a high school record 159-game winning streak and seven high school state championships. Morgan Wootten (2000) captured five high school national championships at DeMatha (MD) High School. Bob Hurley Sr. (2010) won three USA Today national championships, 12 New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles, and 25 state titles at St. Anthony's High School (N.J.).
Now it's time to consider Kevin Boyle, Hurley's longtime rival, for the Hall of Fame.
Consider these numbers for the 55-year-old Boyle:
- He has led Montverde (FL) Academy to four of the last six GEICO High School Nationals titles. How many other programs in America at any level have won four (mythical) national championships in a six-year span?
- Before Montverde, he won five New Jersey Tournament of Champions titles at St. Patrick (N.J.). That ranks second to Hurley's 12 in Garden State history.
- He has coached more top-three NBA Draft picks since 2011 than any coach in America not named Mike Krzyzewski. That group includes two No. 1 picks in Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, two No. 2s in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and D'Angelo Russell and a No. 3 in Joel Embiid. If Duke freshman R.J. Barrett goes in the top three this year (a safe bet), Boyle will have coached six top-3 picks since 2011. (For a list of Montverde's top 10 players of all time, read this.)
Since 2011, @coachkevinboyle has more top-3 NBA Draft picks than any coach besides Coach K. Let that sink in.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 20, 2019
Assuming @RjBarrett6 goes top-3 it will look like this:@DukeMBB - 8@coachkevinboyle - 6@KentuckyMBB - 3@KUHoops - 2@APlayersProgram - 2@UNC_Basketball - 0 pic.twitter.com/WR6VN3gRyz
- Boyle has four former players in this year's NBA All-Star game: Irving, Simmons, Russell, and Embiid.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Boyle.
There are certainly a number of high school coaches who should be in the mix for the Hall of Fame, including the late Archbishop Molloy (N.Y.) coach Jack Curran and legendary current Oak Hill Academy (VA) coach Steve Smith.
But Boyle deserves the honor as well.
"I definitely think he's a Hall of Fame guy," said Ranney (N.J.) coach Tahj Holden, who won a national championship with Maryland in 2002 and whose team was blown out 89-51 on Friday night by Boyle's Montverde team at the Metro Classic. "The guys who he's coached, the teams he coached, the national championships that he's won. The state championships that he's won here when he was with St. Pat's. There's no way that he's not a Hall of Famer in my estimation."
Some may argue that since leaving St. Pat's for Montverde in 2011, Boyle has been able to recruit players from anywhere in America onto virtual all-star teams. But he also attracted many of those players because of his coaching skills and was able to assemble those players into winning teams, not an easy ask in today's me-first basketball culture.
Montverde "was as good [a school] as any that I'd seen," Rowan Barrett, R.J.'s father and now the executive vice president of Canada Basketball, told me for a piece in Bleacher Report. "Academically, everything kind of checked off...And then on the court, [they were] clearly defensive-minded, disciplined, grinding, getting better. Constantly, daily. And when I looked at all the athletes that [Boyle] had in the gym, I thought, 'He's going to get better. My son is going to get better here.'
"And R.J. was adamant. He was like: 'I don't want to see any more schools. This is it.'"
Barrett went on to lead Montverde to a 35-0 record and the GEICO title in 2018 before moving on to join ranks with Zion Williamson at Duke.
Holden pointed out that sometimes "coaching a team that has talent is sometimes harder than coaching a team that has no talent."
"[Boyle] has had talent for years and he's figured out how to win with talent, and without talent when it first started," Holden said. "In my estimation, he's probably a Hall of Fame coach and if he's not it's probably a travesty."
As for adding a new group of stud players every year, Holden said, "It's not that easy. Getting a new team every year, you're now coaching new guys every year. You've got to figure out what they can do and what system they can run. It's not just as easy as getting talent and winning. You still have to go out and compete. You still have to formulate game plans and you still have to go win games. And he's done that in spades.
"You can say he's had Ben Simmons, D'Angelo Russell, Kyrie back in the day, Shaheen Holloway, yeah, that's great. But you still have to coach them, you still have to win games."
A consistent theme with all of Boyle's players is that the perpetually raspy-voiced coach is always pushing them to be better, work harder and overcome their weaknesses to become the best players they can be.
Cade Cunningham, a 6-foot-7 junior point guard from Texas, looks to all the world like a future pro. But he came to Montverde because he knew Boyle wouldn't always tell him how great he was, and would make him better.
"He pushes me," Cunningham said. "He's had so many good players, he doesn't really care who you are coming in. I don't even know if he saw me play before I got there. But he's just so genuine and he really wants me to get better. And he's all about winning. I think that's the main thing I was attracted to him about. A lot of other schools, they'll tell you what you want to hear and then they'll let you just play. They'll just hand you the ball.
"But he's really going to coach you up and if you're not playing the right way, he won't play you. So I think that was the main thing for me."
From where he stands as a high school junior trying to make the NBA, Cunningham believes Boyle is a Hall of Famer.
"For sure," he said. "I feel like he deserves it 100 percent. He's had so many great players and if you ask any of the players, they'll say yes."