Rivera Headed to Lafayette

Aquinas Graduate Chooses Leopards of Patriot League Over 10 Other Schools

OLD BRIDGE, NJ—It has been a huge week so far for the men’s basketball program at Lafayette College.  On Tuesday, the Patriot League school got a commitment from Rutgers Prep standout, Ryan Petit.  A day later, another Central Jersey standout decided to attend the school.  Josh Rivera, a 2021 St. Thomas Aquinas graduate, chose Lafayette over 10 other schools to continue his athletic and academic career

Rivera, a New Brunswick native, who now resides in Old Bridge, just completed a season of post graduate hoops at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.  He battled back from an injury suffered last summer to help PSA to a 38-0 record, and its third National Prep Championship over the past five seasons.  The school enjoyed an average margin of victory of 32 points per game this season.

After playing at Roselle Catholic his first two seasons, Rivera transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas towards the end of the 2019-20 season.  He then played for the Trojans during an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, and helped the team finish 9-5 overall.  Aquinas won the GMC White with a 5-0 mark, but then lost to Colonia (80-64) in the Karl Anthony Towns-Jay Williams Pod Championship.

Rivera played in 13 of 14 games for Aquinas his senior year.  He started in all 13 games played.  Leading the team in scoring and rebounding, Rivera compiled 201 total points and 123 rebounds.  He connected on 84 of 165 shots from the floor for 51 percent.  Rivera averaged 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 0.9 assists, and 0.8 steals per game for Aquinas in 2020-21 according to stats compiled by GMC Hoops.

In addition to scoring in double figures 11 times, Rivera also had 6 double digit rebounding performances in 2020-21. Consequently, Rivera had five double-doubles for the Trojans a year ago.  Rivera recorded a season high 27 points on 12 of 19 shooting along with 8 rebounds in an 84-56 victory over St. John Vianney of Holmdel on February 25, 2021.  He also tallied 24 points on 11 of 17 shooting along with 10 rebounds in a 90-59 win over South Brunswick on March 3, 2021.

On top of his scoring and rebounding, Rivera also led Aquinas with 16 blocks in 2020-21. Rivera had a season high of four rejections in a hard fought 62-56 win at North Brunswick on February 9, 2021.  He also grabbed a season high 17 boards in an 85-82 overtime loss to Life Center Academy on February 4th. 

Rivera was selected to the GMC Hoops All-Pod Team in 2021.  He was also chosen as GMC Hoops Dunker of the Year, and selected to the GMC Hoops All Dunk Team, All Athletic Team, All Windex Team, All Impact Team, All Academic Team, All-Post Season Team, and All Non-Public Team. 

Despite the shortened season due to COVID, Aquinas played a very tough schedule in 2020-21 that included Patrick School, Immaculate Conception, Hudson Catholic, Life Center Academy, and Trenton Catholic.  The Trojans also played Colonia, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, and Edison, which were all ranked in the GMC Hoops Top Ten.  St. Thomas Aquinas averaged 73.6 points per game, and won by an average of 12.7 points per game in 2020-21.

In his first two seasons at Roselle Catholic, Rivera collected 109 points, 42 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 22 games played.  He averaged 5.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game during his time with the Lions.  Rivera wound up choosing Lafayette over the likes of Saint Peter’s, NJIT, Quinnipiac, Drexel, Stetson, Bryant, Fairfield, Robert Morris, Manhattan and Central Connecticut.

Lafayette is undergoing a transition right now.  Mike Jordan, who had previously served as an assistant coach at Colgate for 9 seasons, became the school’s 19th head coach on March 29th.  Jordan has hit the ground running with the commitments of Petit and Rivera.  This past season, the Leopards finished 10-20 overall including a 7-11 mark in Patriot League play.

Playing a limited schedule due to COVID-19 in 2020-21, Lafayette finished 9-6 overall including a 9-5 mark in conference.  The Leopards then lost to 6th seeded Bucknell in the 2021 Patriot League Quarterfinals.  Two seasons ago, Lafayette finished 19-12 overall including a 10-8 mark in the Patriot League.  The Leopards then defeated Army in the Patriot League Tourney Quarterfinals before falling to top seeded Colgate in the semis.

There are several notable former GMC standouts who went on to have successful careers in the Patriot League.  Metuchen’s Larry Spigner, who actually played at Lafayette in from 1989 to 1993. Brian Wilson, a teammate of Jay Williams at St. Joseph’s, went on to have a fine career at Holy Cross from 1999 to 2003.  Sayreville’s Jehyve Floyd played at Holy Cross from 2015 to 2019 before playing overseas in Greece, Israel, and Turkey.

Congratulations Josh, and best wishes for continued success at the next level.