Rams Hoops Standout Joining Teammate Whitaker and P-Way’s Saintil with NCAA D3 Devils
South River’s Joey Nigro follows through on a free throw in the first half of an 87-83 win over Spotswood in Rams Country on January 4, 2019. Nigro recently announced his intentions to attend FDU-Florham this coming fall.
SOUTH RIVER, NJ—Chalk up another GMC basketball standout for Jeff Slanovec and the Devils of FDU-Florham. Within hours of posting the story on South River’s Derrick Whitaker attending FDU-Florham in the fall, GMC Hoops learned from South River boys hoops head coach, Rodney Harris that fellow senior Joey Nigro will be heading to Madison as well.
Nigro is part of a South River Rams senior class that has a lot of talent, and have contributed to success for the Rams on a variety of athletic fields. The younger brother of recent graduate and former football and hoops standout, Mario Nigro, Joey Nigro brought a number of different skills to the Rams boys basketball team the past several years.
Nigro’s hard work, hustle, and smarts on the defensive end as well as solid playmaking and shooting on the offensive end, made him a great complement to Whitaker, who wound up not only becoming the 2nd person to score 2,000 points, and finish second on the all-time scoring list at South River, but also end his career atop the GMC Hoops Grand Club scoring list.
This past season, Nigro played in 23 of the team’s 27 games, and tallied 58 field goals, 24 three pointers, and 60 free throws for a total of 249 points, or an average of 10.8 points per game. Nigro also collected 102 rebounds, 67 assists, 47 steals, and 7 blocks, which also average out to 4.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest according to NJ.com.
Nigro played at least some varsity all four years including all varsity from his sophomore year on. He played in a total of 82 games, made 160 field goals, 115 threes, and 160 foul shots for a career scoring total of 829 points. Nigro also had 336 rebounds, 178 assists, 146 steals, and 28 blocks for an average of 10.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per game.
These numbers didn’t always accurately describe the impact Nigro had on the Rams boys basketball program during his time at South River. He along with Mike DeSantis and Zac Rafano brought a toughness and soul to the Rams play especially on defense, which had often got lost in the shuffle in the past in Ram Country due to the up tempo style of play the team has had under Coach Harris. Nigro’s best season was during his junior year in 2017-18.
During the 2017-18 season, Nigro compiled career best numbers in games played (27), field goals made (76), three pointers (57), foul shots made (69), steals (50), points (395), and rebounds (123). He averaged 14.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game during his junior campaign. Injury this past season prevented Nigro from perhaps surpassing those numbers.
Nigro’s tenure on the varsity coincided with the Rams move up to the GMC Blue for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Over his last three years with the Rams, South River went 47-33 including a 16-20 mark in divisional play. However, the Rams improved from 4-8 two seasons ago to 5-7 last year to 7–5 this season. In addition to finishing third in the Blue Division in 2018-19, the Rams also registered wins against three White Division schools: J.F. Kennedy, North Brunswick, and Sayreville to earn the 13th seed in the 2019 GMCT.
In addition to joining his South River teammate Whitaker at FDU-Florham next fall, Nigro will also team up with former Piscataway standout, and soon to be Middlesex County College graduate, Cameron Saintil, who also recently announced his commitment to Slanovec and the Devils. FDU-Florham men’s basketball program has been rebuilding over the past couple of seasons, and have had a history of former GMC players at the school including: Andrew Biancosino (J.P. Stevens), Mike Williamson (Bishop Ahr), Steve Herdman (South Amboy), and Joe Duffy (J.F. Kennedy).
The Devils, one of three NCAA D3 college teams within a couple miles of each other in The Rose City of Madison, New Jersey, was only 7-18 overall including a 4-10 mark in conference play this past season. Neverthless, it was still a step up from the 2017-18 campaign when FDU-Florham only went 3-22 overall including a 3-11 record in the Freedom Conference. The additions of Nigro, Saintil, and Whitaker from the GMC along with other newcomers will help further improve the Devils fortunes.
More importantly though, the addition of the trio of Nigro, Whitaker, and Saintil at FDU-Florham along with the recent commitment of former St. Joseph’s standout, Howard McBurnie to play for long time rival Drew University, the stock of GMC players that former East Brunswick hoops player, Tom Wagenblast has acquired in his short time building the College of St. Elizabeth men’s basketball program will sure make D3 hoops in The Rose CIty exciting again in 2019-20. Congratulations Joey, and best of luck going forward.