CLARK, NJ - How often does anyone see a high school student reach 1,000 career points? Not very often. But lightening struck twice at the Arthur L. Johnson High School this year.
Sophomore George Visconti scored his 1,000th career point in a 60-28 NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 first-round win over East Brunswick Tech High School on March 1. He hit the milestone with a layup in the third quarter of the game.
“Honestly, I was just happy I did it,” Visconti said. “I felt relieved because you’re thinking about it [reaching 1,000 points], and I wanted to think about the state playoff game. I ultimately wanted to get the victory, so it was the icing on the cake, and I wanted to get it over with.”
Visconti said it was hard work – training for hours a day both during the season and in the off-season - that led him to the 1,000 point milestone in only his second year at the school. He gave his teammates a nod, saying the pushed him to be a better player.
“Honestly, when I came in as a freshmen, I had a great team, a bunch of seniors, they were great leaders, and they got me into the program, and they were very supportive,” Visconti said.
“I just know the hard work me and everyone around me has put in, and honestly, I just want to represent my family, my parents, and this town properly,” Visconti said, “so I want to go out and be the best I can, that resulted in scoring 1,000 points.”
How did he get there? In his freshman year (2014-2015), Visconti scored 429 points, played in 24 games, and averaged 17.9 points per game. In the 2015-2016 season he scored 594 points in in 25 games. He averaged 24.3 points per game.
Visconti credits the Johnson coaching staff with improving his game, making him see things he wasn’t aware of, and that, he said, helped him play harder on both ends of the court.
“The goal for every coach is to try and help them [the players] get better on a daily basis, and he’s certainly brought in a skill-set. The goals for him haven’t changed, and he’s worked to live up to that,” Johnson boys varsity basketball head coach David Kennedy said.
Visconti’s style of play and competitiveness has stood out to his teammates.
“George definitely deserves everything he accomplished,” said senior Mike DeMarco. “He puts in hard work at practice and off the court as well. So, I think he’s earned everything, and it’s been a great experience playing with someone who has the talent like he does.”
Visconti wasn’t the only ALJ basketball player to reach 1,000 points mark this year. And he also wasn’t the only Visconti to do so. George’s older sister Stephanie, a senior at ALJ, netted her 1,000th point on Saturday, February 20, 2016. She had nothing but praise for her younger brother.
“It’s honestly amazing,” Stephanie said. “He works so hard all year and to see all he has done pay off makes me so happy. I couldn’t be prouder of him and can’t wait to see what he will accomplish in his years to come.”
“George is a great kid and is a good basketball player,” Athletic Director Gus Kalikas said. “He’s respectful, nice, a good student, and a heck of a player for us, and what he’s done in two years is unprecedented. It shows the special type of basketball player he is, and sky’s the limit for him going forward.”
George Visconti started in the game back in third grade, with his dad as coach through his eighth grade year. He said both his mom and dad have been his biggest supporters throughout the years, pushing him to do great things and keeping him on track after a rough game.
He said that winning the Union County Conference Sky Division is a great memory, since it was the first division title for the program. They won the conference in a 52-44 win over Jonathan Dayton High School on February 25, 2016.
“Even with the conference going up this year, the banner is still going to look pretty empty,” Visconti said. “So, hopefully we can win the conference my junior and senior years as well. I am definitely looking forward to hopefully adding a couple of sectional finals.”
George had words of advice to middle school basketball players who want to take their game with them to high school.
“Just work as hard as you can all the time,” Visconti said. “Offseason, during the season, anytime you can, just put in work, and it will pay off. Also, believe in yourself, because I didn’t come into high school thinking I was going to score 1,000 points in two years.”
But indeed he did.