Don’t be mistaken. Jordan Riley is honored to win Mr. New York Basketball. But he’s already focused on what’s next.
The Brentwood senior boys basketball player won "Mr. New York Basketball,", given to the top player in the state selected by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York, Inc. after averaging 31.7 points and five assists a game this winter.
And although the Brentwood phenom said receiving this honor was a goal since he started to play high school basketball, Riley doesn’t want this to be his final basketball achievement.
"It feels good, but I’m not too excited about it because that’s not the only thing that matters," Riley said. "I still have things to work on. So there’s more accolades, more things to do. The work’s still not done."
Riley, a four-year varsity player, is just the fifth Long Island boys basketball player to win Mr. Basketball since 1986, and the first since Half Hollow Hills East’s Savion Lewis in 2018.
"You can’t ask for a better accolade," Brentwood coach Anthony Jimenez said. "It doesn’t happen to a lot of high school kids on Long Island, especially public school kids"
Riley’s resilient work ethic has been the focal point in all he’s achieved on the hardwood. He has a basketball court in his backyard, where he spends more hours a day than he can count perfecting his craft.
Riley, who is committed to play at Georgetown next year and was Newsday’s Player of the Year, said he’s been waking up at 4 or 5 a.m. ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to train. Yes, the pandemic took away chances for him to play in state championships, elite AAU tournaments and travel to college campuses, but it also allowed him to focus on his major goal in life -- basketball.
"Pretty much every day all day is basketball," Riley said. "(COVID) actually helped put me altogether. Kept me neat and organized. I was doing chores around the house, basketball and schoolwork. That was all I had to worry about."
The 6-4 guard made his presence immediately known when he could return to a varsity court. He had 42 points and eight steals against Sachem East in the first game of the season and scored at least 26 points in six of seven games this year.
"He’s driven and he’s always got his eye on the next big thing," Jimenez said. "With his goals, he’s always trying to see down the road. He’s always making sure he keeps his eye on the future."
That future will be at Georgetown. And Riley hopes it will lead to the NBA. But Riley wishes he had the opportunity to bring more championship opportunities to Brentwood before graduating.
Brentwood won the Suffolk Class AA championship in Riley’s junior season. But the season was stopped before the Long Island Class AA championship -- signaling the start of the state tournament -- due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After months of unknowns, Long Island had a basketball season, but the shortened schedule was confined to just conference championships. Brentwood lost to Northport in the Suffolk Conference I final.
Does winning Mr. Basketball replace some championship opportunities? Not exactly for Riley.
"There were still some things I wanted to do," he said. "COVID really taught me not to take time for granted because we don’t have much time to do the things we want. I feel like there were more things I wanted to do to solidify my high school career."
Although Riley may feel his high school tenure fell short of his ultimate goals, he has his eyes on what’s next. Riley said he spends his days working on every part of his game and hopes to deliver a national championship to Georgetown.
"I’m very excited just to get back to that competition to play again," Riley said. "Just to showcase what I can do because I feel like if COVID didn’t happen, I would have been a McDonald’s All-American and show what I could have done against the top-ranked kids in the nation."