Sunday, February 1, 2015

Anthony "Mook" Munson Picking Up Interest

Three months prior to the 2014-15 campaign, Bedford Academy head coach Rob Phelps approached junior guard Anthony "Mook" Munson in a critical mentor-pupil sitdown.

 It was swift and to-the-point, as both recall.

Since Munson arrived at Bedford Academy as a spindly and callow freshman, Phelps discovered a deceptively athletic shutdown defender.

Yet in this particular one-on-one session, Phelps addressed Munson's offensive responsibility.

 The pivotal points Phelps illustrated were simple: He needed his best player to transition from being a 12-13 PPG scorer to a 20 PPG scorer.

 Phelps needed the 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard to develop an assassin's instinct, decimating defenses with a variety.

 That meant acquiring a pull-up game.

 It would entail Munson mixing in a steady 18-22 foot jumper with his forays to the rim and acrobatic finishes.

 Munson had a lofty burden, constantly pinning the opponent's top scorer the past two seasons.

  Ever since Phelps inherited the program following the resignation of Derron Rippey, gritty man-to-man defense has been the unwavering identity.

It is now February. Bedford is 18-1, on the footstep of an undefeated season in PSAL-A's East Division.

Shaping into a double-duty threat, Munson's  all-around game has become attractive to plenty of Division-I suitors.

Suddenly finishing with authority, Munson has earned clout in a city known to relish high-rising flair.

"As of now Brown University is showing a lot of interest, as is South Florida and Holy Cross," said Munson, who scored 28 points during the team's lone loss to Springfield and put up 14 points to go with seven steals in a signature win over Don Bosco.

 Columbia, Northeastern, Monmouth, and several others have expressed interest.

South Florida, under first-year head coach Orlando Antigua, has a unique recruiting angle with Munson.

 Antigua starred at St. Raymond's in the 1990s under Gary DeCesare.

Phelps, at Nazareth at the time, was one of the city's most prolific scorers, second only to Kenny Anderson.

Phelps averaged 31 PPG, compiling 2,477 career points (11th all time in NYS history) under Ted Gustus.

Phelps' career at Nazareth occurred during a prosperous era for the program, underscored by ex-NBA players Rolando Blackman and John Salley (Phelps, Blackman, and Salley all wore no.22).

"Orlando and I go back since high school," Phelps said.

 "I've known him for 30 years. We played against each other in college and overseas some. I'm happy that South Florida is showing some interest. I got a call from him and (South Florida Director of Basketball Operations and former NY Gauchos coach) Jerry McCullough. They definitely want to come out and take a good look at (Munson). The opportunity is there and that's all you can ask for is the opportunity."

South Florida recently received a commitment from Luis Montero, a 6-foot-9 guard/forward out of Westchester Community College in Valhalla, N.Y.

Westchester, embroiled in a messy fake transcript scandal, has been forced to shut down the program for the season.

Munson, whose expanded offensive skill-set has included  crafty handle and adroit finishes with both hands around the rim, must take care of the rest.

"I think my biggest adjustment from last season is the confidence I have in my jump shot and my range," Munson said.

"Last year, I was primarily the third option in the offense. This year, I'm looked at as the number one option and I've got to guard the number one scorer on every team we face. Myself, along with Anthony Gibbs are being looked at to lead the team."

Phelps said preparing his top scoring threat for the ramped up dose of leadership is an ongoing process, only because he believes Munson's scapable of more.

"He can really score more but he's such an unselfish player," Phelps said.

"At times, he's almost too unselfish."

Bedford is one of the most academically competitive schools in the city. Phelps mandates at least an 82 average from every one of his players.

 Some foes might view Bedford as a soft school for academic kids, many better suited for walking old ladies across the street and the choir.

Munson said this perception, along with Bedford's second fiddle status behind time-tested NYC powers such as Lincoln and Christ The King, has supplied extra motivation.

Similar to the legendary Villanova  team of of 2006, featuring Kyle Lowry, Allan Ray, Mike Nardi, and Randy Foye, Bedford employs a four-guard set.

Beyond Munson and Gibbs, a defensive pest and knockdown shooter, Bedford features another Division-I prospect in 3-point trigger man Ian Roach.

Phelps, who operates a 12-month program which includes Scrimmage Wars and summer-long Open Gyms replete with weight room and skill camps, is an adversary of AAU.

 Phelps has cited selfishness, the lack of fundamentals, and the business aspect to it as reasons for steering away from the circuit.

Munson is one of few Bedford players on an AAU team, playing for New Heights alongside Virginia-commit Ty Jerome.

Utilizing a souped-up attack and guarding multiple guard positions at Bedford and on New Heights, Munson has the look of a two-guard at the next level.

"I would like to play for a program that plays a high-paced game, where I'd have the opportunity to get better at my position," said Munson.

The Class of 2016 guard understands, however, he must keep his eyes on the prize.

"To win a PSAL championship and a state championship after that would be our ultimate goals," Munson said.

"To accomplish that, we push each other everyday in practice to work harder."