Who is the Hudson boys basketball team's GOAT? Longtime coach releases his all-decade team
We’ve heard the debates.
Over and over again.
Who is the GOAT, AKA greatest of all time?
LeBron James or Michael Jordan?
Tom Brady or Joe Montana?
Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus?
If you prefer other continents, how about Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo?
When it comes to the Hudson High School boys basketball team, picking a transcendent player is the equivalent of picking your favorite piece of art at the Louvre.
In other words, there’s just too many fabulous choices.
Jeff Brink, who has been the Explorers’ head coach for the last 14 years, won’t say on record who stands out above everyone else during his successful tenure on Hudson Aurora Road.
He did narrow it down a bit, though.
After several discussions with his current assistants, former assistants and a longtime Hudson Hub-Times correspondent, Brink recently posted his all-decade team on Twitter.
The Explorers’ brain trust picked a first team, a second team and a third team. Each team consisted of five players who were chosen as the top performers from the 2009-10 season all the way to this past season.
Five other players received honorable mention and Brink and his trusted confidants also chose five players for their “all-sandpaper team.” This particular group of gentlemen was selected on the basis of their grit and toughness, according to Brink.
“It was fun,” he said. “We got together and talked about it over dinner during Christmas and New Year’s. I talked to a lot of alums. They put in their two cents.”
Ultimately, Brink, along with his current assistant coaches, Bruce Thomas, Grant Spaite and Tommy Stockard, and former assistant Ken Bauza, picked the teams. They also received some valuable input from longtime Hudson Hub-Times’ correspondent Rob Barrone.
“It was something Rob brought up last year,” Brink said. “We talked about the best players I coached at Hudson. That got the discussion going.”
While Brink and his staff might not say it out loud, one could make a legitimate argument that the Explorers’ alpha male just finished his illustrious career during the winter.
Six-foot-six center Jack Burdett, a 2020 graduate, recently left Hudson as the team’s all-time leader in career rebounds (698), assists (246), blocks (136) and games played (93).
A big man getting a lot of rebounds and blocks isn’t exactly a rarity. But assists? Out of my way, Wilt Chamberlain!
Thus, Burdett, who led Hudson to an 11-game winning streak during the winter, was a unanimous choice to crack the Explorers’ first team, right?
Burdett was named to the — second team.
“There were definitely some debates and disagreements,” Brink said. “Jack was a dominant player in his era. There were a lot of great players. It’s tough to separate.”
Mitch Guadagni, a 2015 Hudson graduate who recently concluded his career as a quarterback for the University of Toledo football team, has a few gold stars of his own.
The former standout guard, who led the Explorers to an Associated Press Division I state championship on the gridiron during his senior year, proved to be Hudson’s greatest thief with school records for steals in a game (nine), season (75) and career (162).
By the way, Guadagni was a first-team selection.
“Mitch is the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached,” Brink said. “He wasn’t necessarily the best 3-point shooter, but athletically, he dominated from his position.”
Speaking of 3-point shooters, 6-9 forward Isaac MacGillis, a 2016 Hudson graduate, shot 48.8 percent from 3-point range during his senior season. In case you’re wondering, that sizzling percentage ranked second in the state.
First-team pick for sure, correct?
Amazingly enough, MacGillis was a second-team choice.
Tough crowd, huh?
“Isaaac showed the most improvement from his freshman year to his senior year,” Brink said. “He was a great all-around player. He was a great defender who was very unselfish.”
So, besides the extraordinarily gifted Guadagni, who was named to the prestigious first team?
They are guards Zack Brandy (2013 graduate), Zach Meder (2016), Richie Piekarski (2010), who played football at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and Bobby Tyler (2009), who played lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts.
Brandy, the lone four-digit scorer (1,038 career points) during Brink’s tenure, received All-Ohio special mention. He also led the Explorers to three victories over archrival Stow-Munroe Falls and to a district title game during his senior year.
Meder and Piekarski each earned All-Ohio honorable mention.
“A lot of it was based on impact,” Brink said. “Zack Brandy and Zach Meder led their teams to a championship. Pound for pound, Zach Meder, who weighed about 140 pounds, was our best player.
“Richie could play all five positions. Bobby didn’t have huge scoring numbers, but he was a great athlete. He was one of our best defenders, a great passer and a great ball-handler.”
Kevin Zullo, a 2014 Hudson graduate who played baseball for Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, may have been the Explorers’ best pure shooter thus far in the Brink era. The second-team selection owns both the single-season (61) and career records (112) for 3-pointers made.
The rest of the second team includes post player Colin Geaney (2009) and guard Randall Berkley (2012).
“Randall was our best pure point guard,” Brink said. “He was a great defender. He was a soccer kid with tremendous endurance.”
Post players Josh Jonaitis (2009) and Ben Gedeon (2013), guards Spencer McClure (2017) and William Wallace (2019) and guard/forward Steven Boslet (2013) were named to the third team.
Sorry, Mr. Gedeon. Just because you’re a linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings doesn’t earn you a ticket in the navy blue and white’s top 10.
“Ben lettered as a freshman even though he wasn’t even a basketball kid,” Brink said.
Receiving honorable mention were guards Kevin Meyer (2009), John Zuccaro (2014), Aaron Martin (2019) and Damani Ganaway (2020) and forward Alex Mushock (2013).
As for Brink’s blue-collar bunch, guards Alex Beck (2017), who played football for The Ohio State University in Columbus; Trevor Colazzo (2015), who played soccer at the University of Vermont; Cooper Charlton (2011), who played lacrosse at the University of Michigan (2011); Matt Rightnour (2015), who played football at the University of Dayton; and Peyton Koscho (2020), were named to the all-sandpaper team.
“The scrapper guys didn’t have the stats, but they were key guys in the way they played,” Brink said. “Just for fun, we picked five guys that you loved having on the floor despite not having the stats.”
Yes, there may have been a few snubs. Nevertheless, no one is complaining. Regardless of who was chosen, everyone seemed to be a fan of this pantheon of GOATs, who once called Ray “Buck” Hyser Gymnasium their second home.
“One of the greatest things for me is the relationship with my players,” Brink said. “We still get together for summer alumni basketball. It’s great to see everybody and reminisce.
“What I really appreciate is all of the text messages I receive over the holidays. I’ll usually spend two hours of my day on Christmas responding to text messages from former players. That’s what makes it special.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Faceto_Gannett.