THE HOOP GROUP 2016-17 PLAYER OF THE YEAR



THE WINNER OF THE 2017 HOOP GROUP PLAYER OF THE YEAR IS …DARA MABREY. This years winner is no stranger to this award. Both her older sisters were Hoop Group Player of the Year winners. But unlike her sisters, she is the first to win the award as a junior. This season Dara Mabrey was a tour de force from the moment the season started and currently is seeking another TOC title. It’s another reason why this years winner was such a clear cut Choice.


Coach Kukoda and Dara share a warm moment

No player I can think of in recent history, scored more big baskets or delivered on a big stage as often as Dara Mabrey did this season. No player in all my years has displayed the leadership qualities of Dara Mabrey. This season Dara Mabrey, sent a message not only to the shore, but the entire country in the 2nd game of the year. It was her 33 point performance against RBC that set the stage for one of the best seasons, not only in shore history, but the state as well.  While Mabrey averaged an impressive 19.1 points a game this season, it was how she got them that put her in a class of her own. In the shoot out with RBC’s Jose Larkin’s in a battle of Top 5 teams, it was Mabrey who time and time again, that came up with the big play. It was Mabrey who simply refused to lose and that seemed to be her attitude all season. In a game against Long Island Lutheran it was she that hit the game winning free throws in overtime and scored 33 points. It was she that made the game tying shot to allow Manasquan to beat St. Rose in overtime, in a 29 point performance. It was she that drew the foul in Manasquan’s win over RFH, in a game that appeared hopelessly lost. What made all these performances special, is that it was against the very best competition that high school basketball has to offer. Dara Mabrey, did it on the biggest of biggest stages, time and time again all season. You would be hard pressed to find a player in recent years that has had such show stopping performances so often in one season. Dara Mabrey’s mind set seems to be, that she can beat any team and player anywhere, anytime and at any place. It’s this total belief in herself, that will make her a future All American.

If you are wondering what makes Dara Mabrey different from every player in the state, its her work ethic. There is a running joke at the Hoop Group, that when it rains…expect a call from Dara Mabrey. No player in the shore spends more time working on their game. No player addresses their weakness like Dara Mabrey. She is not only the best conditioned player in the shore, but she is also by far the most competitive. The term warrior is used very loosely these days. But in the case of Dara Mabrey it is real as in as real as it gets. After a tough win this season over RBC, I said to her great job. Her response was “Tiny, I knew what I had to work on this year.” This is why Dara Mabrey has no peers. She understands getting better and out working others is the key to maximum success.

It’s no secret with the name Mabrey comes great expectations. Dara knows that all eyes are on her every night. It does not seem to faze her one bit. I believe, she welcomes the challenge of having a target on her back.  It acts as fuel for her. I also believe college coaches are looking for her sisters when they come watch her play. She doesn’t fit the part for the U-Conn’s and Notre Dame’s of the world. She is not super long or big like her sisters. But what Power 5 elite programs are finally starting to figure out  is this, is what I have known all along…..DARA MABREY is not only as good as her sisters, but maybe better. Now those are strong words but in fact may be true. She has the best ball handling skills of the three and I say shoots the ball as well has Michela who was a star at Notre Dame. It may not look like she plays with the anger of Marina, but trust me she plays just as angry. Dara Mabrey is a cross between her two sisters. She is a Mabrey, but she is a Mabrey in her own way. She just is doing things different from her two sisters. She just may be, the newer better version of the Mabrey’s.

Dara Mabrey was named the 2017 New Jersey Player of the year

When it comes to personality, this is the most miss understood thing about Dara Mabrey. She is one of the funniest kids you know. I have caught her making fun of me behind my back. She laughs and jokes with the best of them. She had everybody laughing at the recent All Shore pictures.  She has welcomed Lola Mullaney into the Manasquan family, she makes Victoria Galvan a softball player at the next level,  laugh. She walks into the Hoop Group and I joke with her and she gives it right back with the best of them. It’s all part of her next level leadership skills. I often talk to her about teammates getting out of control at times, she just smiles and says I got it. When named as a Gatorade finalist, she asks me not to say anything. I know why. She’s afraid of the jealousy that comes with her name. Dara Mabrey is so mature for her age it’s scary. I can assure you, when she is playing at a Power 5 school in two years. She will be the captain of the team and that team will be playing for a national championship…because Dara Mabrey has been a winner her entire life.


I have covered the shore now for a very long time. I have seen most of the great ones at this point. The Mt. Rushmore of players changes every 7 or 8 years. A new star comes along and bumps off an old one. It’s the way it is and the way it’s supposed      to be. But for right now, Dara Mabrey just had one of the greatest seasons in shore history. This was a Mt. Rushmore season for Miss Mabrey and before her playing days are over, she may be one of the faces on Mt. Rushmore. She will have a chance next year to be the only two time HOOP GROUP PLAYER OF THE YEAR,  in the awards history. So today we are very proud to name DARA MABREY THE 2017 HOOP GROUP PLAYER OF THE YEAR…CONGRATS TO DARA AND MANASQUAN HIGH SCHOOL.

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