By Tom Ballato
Walk-ons in college basketball usually run the scout team and seldom play in games. They sit at the end of the bench and are not on scholarship. When they play in games, it is usually during what is referred to as “garbage time” or in a blowout, but for Andre Stanley at St. John’s, he was a rare occasion, and he had talent too.
Andre Stanley grew up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where he played basketball for the local Boys and Girls Club and CYO teams. He grew up playing with Omar Cook and Erick Barkley. Andre said, “It was an honor to go to the same school as Omar Cook and Erick Barkley.” Growing up, Andre was raised by his single mother and lived with her and some close relatives. They eventually got an apartment of their own. His mother always took care of him, which is something that always stood out to Andre.
Andre Stanley rooting on St. John’s. Photo courtesy of Finish First Photos.
After graduating from John Jay High School, Andre went the junior college route. He attended a community college but dropped out to work and tend to his sick mother. A year later, he enrolled and played at Globe Institute of Technology, a two-year junior college program in Manhattan, where his coach was Kenney Wilcox. Andre became a prospect during his time at Globe Institute. He was an undersized small forward as an offensive player and could defend both wing positions. He had physical style, and he never took a play off defensively. Not many players go the junior college route, especially in New York, but when asked about his experience at Globe, Andre responded, “It was close to home and a Division 1 junior college. We played against big-time schools like Tallahassee Community College, where Marcus Hatten played before we became teammates. It was good to be in New York and play powerhouse junior college teams.”
After one season at Globe Institute, Andre had offers to play Division 1 basketball from East Carolina, Iowa St., Fairfield, and St. Francis in Brooklyn, a local school. Andre was close to attending East Carolina and had a scholarship offer but chose to walk-on at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. He would’ve been a star in leagues like the NEC or America East because he would have been a scorer at those levels, but his decision was driven primarily by his family situation. Andre’s mother, who had diabetes, lost her leg due to complications, and Andre stayed home to care for her. The competitor in him also wanted to try and play at St. John’s because of the competition, and it was the highest stage possible.
Staying home for college meant that Andre needed to wake up at 5:30 every morning to get to practice by 7:30. He took the subway and transferred to a bus but still managed to be at practice every day. Andre was a walk-on at St. John’s, but coach Mike Jarvis gave him an opportunity to be on the team and work for everything. Andre worked hard in practice because he knew he had talent and, even as a walk-on, expected to play because he knew there was an opportunity. He had a physical style of defense, which is attributed to the way he grew up. “Playing hard is a skill now. The way I grew up was always playing a hard and physical style of basketball. You see today that players aren’t like that because it is an offensive game, but when we grew up, it was a physical game.”
After not playing in a stretch of games, Andre was down on himself because he worked and prepared so hard for an opportunity. Before a game against Seton Hall, Jarvis told Stanley he would be starting. Andre played in some big games for St. John’s after getting the start. When asked how Andre was as a teammate, his teammate and friend Marcus Hatten said, “A competitor. Definitely a team player willing to do whatever it takes to win. He loved the game. He was dedicated and had a willingness to get better every day.”
Andre spent three years at St. John’s and averaged 4.9 points per game. Some of his favorite memories in a St. John’s uniform include a trip to the NCAA Tournament and the first time getting on the court. “Getting on the court for the first time was something you never forget, and it was a lifelong dream making the NCAA Tournament. We played Wisconsin. It was a great experience, I just wish I got a shot up.” Andre spoke about the competition, which is part of the reason he came to St. John’s. “UConn was tough. I had to guard Caron Butler and Ben Gordon. I struggled in the game against Wake Forest. I guarded Josh Howard and struggled against his length.”
After college, Andre played some minor league basketball with the Brooklyn Kings. He played for a short period of time before he joined the real world.
Today, Andre still has that basketball mentality where he never takes a play off and is accountable for his contributions. He is a commercial real estate broker in the five boroughs of New York, but his office is located in Manhattan.
He was involved in youth basketball with New Heights, Metro Hawks, and occasionally the New York Rens, but after a six-year layoff, is looking to get back into it. He has a meeting coming up with the PSA Cardinals.
Andre still supports his alma mater and attends St. John’s games. He remains in touch with some of his teammates and friends from St. John’s, like Marcus Hatten, Kyle Cuffe Sr., Willie Shaw, Omar Cook, and Erick Barkley. When asked about the hire of St. John’s new head coach Mike Anderson, he said, “It is the toughest St. John’s hire. It was great to see Chris Mullin comeback and lead St. John’s to the tournament. That was special. Coach Anderson’s “40 minutes of hell” and style of play will be exciting in Madison Square Garden.”