Joey Mullaney

Lawrence Academy manager Joey Mullaney dunks to start the game (VIDEO)

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Saturday afternoon, Lawrence Academy (Mass.) dropped its final game of the season to Buckingham Browne and Nichols (Mass.) 65-63 on Senior Day. However, the game’s first basket, greatly outweighed the final score.

Earlier in the week, Lawrence head coach Kevin Wiercinski approached senior manager Joey Mullaney, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia, and asked about whether he wanted to suit up for the final game of the season, in the hopes of getting him on the floor.

“He was like ‘let me think about it,'” said Wiercinski. “Then he came in after the next class and he was like, ‘I’ll do it under one condition.’”

“If I can dunk,” said Mullaney, who retold the conversation in a phone interview on Monday afternoon.

“He laughed it off,” added Mullaney. “I was like, ‘I’m not lying. I’m dunking it.’ I’ve seen these kind of shots before where kids do layups or threes. I just really wanted to go out with a bang.”

After giving a quick call to BB&N, as well as requesting the referees neglect the rules for about 30 seconds, the Spartans spent Friday practicing the staged dunk.

The play began with teammate Darrien Myers winning the tip, with the help of Myers and Jalen Myrie, Mullaney got on top of the shoulders of 6-foot-7 Daquan Sampson. And the most important part of all, Mullaney’s twin brother, Sean, was able to give Joey the assist on his biggest athletic accomplishment.

“I would say it’s probably the greatest athletic achievement of my life, as well,” said Sean in a phone interview on Tuesday. “He had to give up so much of his life, so quickly, because of his disease, and to see him on the floor right in front of me, doing something we thought he never could, it was awesome.”

Being on the floor and even dunking wasn’t enough for Joey, who had to add some flare to the special moment.

“I did a little pull up like Dwyane Wade would do,” joked Mullaney. “I had to add emphasis to the dunk.”

Mullaney, who’s 22-year old sister Kaela also suffers from FA, hasn’t played a game of organized basketball since he was in eighth grade due the progression of the disease. It affects his walking, speech and hand-eye coordination. He needs help walking to and from class, although, he is typically being assisted by a female student as his coach points out.

“What it does is it kills the iron in your legs, so you can’t control your muscles,” explained Mullaney. “It starts from the legs and works its way up. Freshman year wasn’t that bad, now I’m much worse and I really need help walking anywhere.”

Joey continues to fight the disease, refusing to use a wheelchair while working out with the school’s trainer consistently. He will enroll in Quinnipiac this fall and hopes to be involved in the men’s basketball program. His twin brother, Sean, will play baseball at Bowdoin College. After years of being sidelined and months away from being separated by a four-hour drive, the Mullaneys were able to share the hardwood together once again.

“It was awesome,” said Joey. “I truly thought it would never happen again. It meant the world to me to play on the court with my brother one last time.”

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)