Brooklyn Boro

BFS’ Neptune ready to chase championships

Pearl Street legend takes reins of title contender Villanova

April 28, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Brooklyn Friends School basketball legend Kyle Neptune already has a Class C State title and two national championships.

Now, he’s determined to add to that impressive trophy case and ring collection.

Coming off an impressive one-year stint at Fordham University, Neptune last week became the head coach at Villanova, a program he helped guide to a pair of NCAA Tournament crowns as former head coach Jay Wright’s top assistant.

“To the players, watching you guys grow from afar and the run Villanova went on this year has been unbelievable,” Neptune said last Friday after assuming the post. “I can’t tell you how excited I am to be your coach.

“One of the things coach Wright says is that everybody’s role is different but our status is all the same. My role now is to be the standard bearer for Villanova Basketball and to make sure we keep this culture together, make sure we hold this high standard of what coach Wright created here. I am ready to do it and I can’t wait to keep going.”

Neptune has actually never stopped.

The 37-year-old Brooklyn native was the centerpiece of the 2003 New York State championship team from BFS, a squad that made history with an eight-man squad that defeated the toughest competition in the city and state.

Limited to only nine players, Neptune and the Blue Pride somehow stunned Joakim Noah and Poly Prep in the Athletic Conference of Independent Schools championship.

They then topped Buffalo City Honors in Glens Falls, N.Y., to earn the Class-C crown.

“We are extremely proud of Kyle and all that he has accomplished,” said longtime Blue Pride Athletic Director David Gardella. “From the time he first stepped onto the court here at BFS, I knew there was something special about Kyle.

“That was confirmed in his senior season, when he helped lead the Panthers to the 2003 New York State Basketball Championship. We are excited to watch him grow on his coaching path and believe that he will continue to do great things at Villanova. Wishing him, his new team, and the program all the best. Friends Forever!”

Kyle Neptune took the reins of the Villanova basketball program from Jay Wright, whom he won two national titles with as an assistant. AP Photo by Matt Roarke

Four years as a key player and team captain at Lehigh led him to begin his original eight-year stint at Villanova as a video coordinator before he became Wright’s top recruiter.

Neptune led Fordham to a 14-win increase during his first head coaching gig a season ago after helping Wright and the Wildcats grab national crowns in 2016 and 2018.

Now, he will be in charge of growing Villanova’s championship pedigree. But not without thanking Wright, who believed in Neptune for this very lofty position in the hierarchy of NCAA basketball.

“I think I can speak for the entire Villanova community when I say ‘Wow’ about Jay Wright and all that you have done for all of us, not just your players but the coaches who have come through both of your programs at Hofstra and Villanova,” he gushed.

“What you have accomplished as a coach is amazing, but what you do as a person far exceeds what you have done as a coach. You have been a mentor and a great example for all of us for who to be as a person. That has meant so much to me throughout the years.”

Villanova athletic director Mark Jackson believes he’s made a wise choice in bringing a proven winner back to a program that has played in the NCAA Tournament in every decade since the 1930s.

“What stood out to me when Kyle and I first got to know each other when he was an assistant coach here is that I saw firsthand his ability to treat people well and build relationships in a positive way everywhere he went,” Jackson said.

“I watched him present scouting reports, take over practices, make in-game decisions along with Jay. I saw him recruit and work within our community and have a rapport with other coaches and staff members, as well as with University administration. When he went to Fordham it was clear to me that Kyle was ready to be a head coach.”

Kyle Neptune and former Villanova head coach Jay Wright threw ceremonial first pitches at the Philadelphia Phillies game Sunday. AP Photo by Matt Slocum

Neptune’s readiness has never been in question. Neither has his penchant for chasing and winning championships.

“I want to thank the Fordham community, especially [Director of Intercollegiate Athletics] Ed Kull, [University President] Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and the Board of Trustees for accepting me and giving me a chance,” Neptune said.

“Moving on to Villanova, this is a dream come true and I appreciate [University President] Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. and Mark Jackson for your confidence in me. I won’t let you down.”

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