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Hofstra freshmen guards team up after being high school rivals

Hofstra University incoming freshman Desure Buie squares to

Hofstra University incoming freshman Desure Buie squares to the hoop during an informal men's basketball team workout at the team's practice facility on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Credit: James Escher

Whenever Hofstra basketball coach Joe Mihalich instructs Desure Buie or Justin Wright-Foreman, his gaze is met by "two big eyes."

Incoming freshmen Buie and Wright-Foreman are eager to learn as the team works out over the summer.

"The first few weeks have been good," Wright-Foreman said during Wednesday morning's shootaround. "Classes have been great. Practices have been intense, but they've been good. I'm just here to learn, getting the concepts of the offense and defense."

Mihalich, who is entering his third season at Hofstra, said, "They've made a great first impression on everybody."

The two had an intertwined path to Hofstra.

Buie, a pass-first point guard from the Bronx, led Wings Academy to the PSAL and state Federation titles last season. In the PSAL quarterfinals, Wings defeated High School of Construction, led by Wright-Foreman, who is touted as an explosive scorer.

Now the former opponents are roommates.

"We had that connection early since we played against each other all the time, even though I kind of hated him," Wright-Foreman said with a smile. "He's cool."

The victors tend to remember history differently.

"It was never like being enemies," Buie said. "It was just two friends going against each other on the court."

Buie said that friendship was a factor in his commitment to Hofstra. Wright-Foreman, who committed to the Pride early in the fall, joined the recruiting effort of Mihalich's staff to convince Buie to follow with a pledge a few weeks later.

Now that they are together on the court, it is easy to envision Hofstra's backcourt of the future. Buie and Wright-Foreman each is 6 feet tall. Their skill sets complement each other -- Buie with his willingness to set up teammates and Wright-Foreman with his scoring ability.
"That's the dream, that that could be one of those awesome backcourts," Mihalich said.

But Mihalich said there is no pressure on the freshmen to turn that dream into a reality in their first year. The Pride has a loaded backcourt, with seniors Juan'ya Green (17.1 points, 6.5 assists) and Ameen Tanksley (16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds) and junior Brian Bernardi (11.6 points) returning as the team's top three scorers from 2014-15.

"You worry when freshmen come in if they're going to have to be your leading rebounder or your leading scorer because then it's hard," Mihalich said. "They're going to play against Juan'ya Green, Brian Bernardi, Ameen Tanksley every day. They're just going to keep getting better and better."

That's not to say the freshmen won't have an immediate impact.

"Justin can play above the rim. He's a sleeper," Tanksley said. "Desure will also be able to take Juan'ya off the ball this year so he can come off screens. Juan'ya was on the ball a lot. Now with Juan'ya running around, and nobody knows where he is, that's going to help us put more points on the board."

Green, who shot 38.2 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from three-point range, will welcome any way to receive better looks. The tangible results will have to wait until November, but both freshmen already have impressed him.

"There's been times in practice where they do something and I'll be like, yo, that's crazy," Green said. "They're learning a lot, and they're getting better every day."

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