Favorite athlete: Luka Doncic
Favorite team: 76ers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Forcing OT on buzzer beater 3 my freshman year
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Forgetting my jersey to an away game.
Music on playlist: Mac Miller
Future plans: Go to medical school.
Words to live by: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
One goal before turning 30: Have a great credit score.
One thing people don’t know about me: I am an avid Subway Surfers player.
By GORDON GLANTZ
As he puts his basketball career in the rearview mirror, there are no regrets for Neshaminy’s Sean Curley.
He was on varsity since his freshman year, was a key reserve on a division-winning team as a sophomore and went on to lead his team in scoring – and charges – as a two-time captain in his junior and senior seasons.
It was a career that ended with around 800 points netted, not bad considering his sophomore season was shortened due to COVID.
It’s short of the 1,000-point plateau achieved by his older sister, Kristin, a few years ago.
But the two-time all-leaguer got the last laugh there already. Ditto for when it comes to his dad, Terry, a standout at Archbishop Wood who went on play at Ursinus College.
By the time he was entering his early teens, neither could touch him on the court in terms of 1-on-1 games in the driveway.
“It felt pretty good,” he said. “It felt like something you have waited your whole life for, at least up until that point. They had both beaten me for so long. It felt good to get one back.”
In reality, it’s all just in good fun for the Thanksgiving table.
“It runs in the family,” he said.
Curley wanted to thank the whole tribe – including mom, Cindy, and half-sister, Stephanie Donahue -- for their love and support along the way.
And when he says family, he means his extended basketball “family” as well.
“I’d like to thank my entire family, and I have to thank every coach I have ever had,” he said. “I have been playing since kindergarten, and they all have given so much of their time to help my development. That’s something that I’ll be forever thankful for.”
Along the way, he achieved a goal that began as a kid attending Neshaminy basketball games.
“Ever since playing in kindergarten, it was always a dream to play in high school,” he said. “It was just a great feeling to get to play and win. I have been enamored with the game ever since I was little.”
Perhaps it was his last name that earned him an invite to offseason workouts with the big boys as an incoming freshman, but impressing the coaching staff was all on Curley.
And even though he was a few inches shorter and more slightly built, coach Mark Tingle saw enough to have Curley initially cross-roster between JV and varsity.
“You just kind of knew that he had a great head on his shoulders, a really good IQ on the floor and he could shoot the lights out,” said Tingle, a former Neshaminy player who is in his seventh season as head coach after 10 as an assistant. “We invited him to those offseason workouts as an eighth grader. By the time he got to his freshman year, you just knew he was ready.”
Curley was inserted into an early-season game that, uh, wasn’t going so well against Bensalem and turned enough heads that there was no more JV for him.
“He had no fear,” said Tingle. “We thought he’d be on the varsity but play a ton of JV. He only played one JV game, and we were down in the game (against Bensalem) and we just threw him in there to see what he could do. He went off for 12 points, and he never looked back since then.”
As the season progressed, Curley found himself in the unique spot of having his number called to take a three-pointer with the team down three late in a game against Central Bucks South.
“His freshman year, he was probably our seventh or eighth guy, so he got enough reps,” said Tingle. “He hit a big-time three-pointer to tie it and force overtime that year.”
Once that went through the hoop, Curley knew that he had arrived.
“For most freshmen, it’s pretty intimidating,” he reflected. “You are thrown in with the sharks, kind of, at the varsity level. After that (shot), I felt a lot more comfortable on the court with everybody.”
Finding himself on varsity took an adjustment, but it was far from a culture shock.
“The big athleticism jump was the big thing,” said Curley. “When I came in, I was still pretty small. I didn’t think I could keep up with those guys in terms of foot speed. I wouldn’t say I was a superstar in middle school, but I hung well with everybody.
“Maybe it was a little bit surprising, but it was something I had worked for, too.”
In the big picture, being allowed to play on his own merits and not his class status, was an investment in the future.
“It was definitely better for my development, overall,” said Curley. “Getting the experience at the varsity level is something you really can’t work on in practice. You really need that experience in games. Getting that my freshman year, really helped me later on in my career.”
As far as Tingle is concerned, it was all well-earned.
“He’s an incredible kid,” said the coach. “He has been on varsity for four years. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself.”
No Sophomore Slump
In his sophomore year, Curley was essentially the sixth man, but made a handful of as-needed starts because of the COVID situation.
That same Neshaminy team cut down the nets and went on to districts, losing in the first round to West Chester East, and he learned a lot from older teammates.
Despite a broken foot incurred in an AAU game between seasons, Curley was ready to do damage as an upperclassman.
“It was hard to stay in a positive mindset going through something like that,” he said of the setback.
While Neshaminy saw its seasons end in the first round of districts his junior and senior seasons, he was proud of the way this year’s team overcame a rough patch in the middle of the season and finished strong.
Individually, he tied a school record for three-pointers in a game (7) and free-throw percentage (84 percent).
“In my junior year, I started to see a lot of playing time,” he said. “Along the way, I made a ton of friends. We won the league. I believe that has only happened four or five times at Neshaminy. It feels awesome to be something like that; something that is bigger than yourself. With all the accomplishments, I’m just sad that it’s over.
“I’m definitely going to miss it. Every day, you get to hang out with 10-15 of your best friends. That’s definitely something I’m going to miss.”
While he could have easily gone the route of playing at the Division III level, Curley made the difficult-but-necessary decision to move on to his goal of following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a doctor, something that crystallized in middle school.
He has a 4.5 GPA, test scores off the charts and is leaning heavily toward Penn State or Villanova.
Curley is also the treasurer of student council and a member of the National Honor Society.
His studious approach in the classroom carries over to the hardwood.
“I’m not the most athletic player on the court,” he said. “What I bring to the table is a high basketball IQ and my outside shooting. I try and get my teammates involved and make sure they are in the best spots they can be in at all times.”
That is an opinion shared by his coach, who has seen it emerge in leadership skills over the years.
“By nature, he is a quiet kid,” said Tingle. “But, when he has to talk, he talks. He has a great IQ in the classroom, but also on the court.”
“Sometimes, as a coach, I’ll say, ‘Hey, what do you think? What do you see out there?’ And he doesn’t have a problem telling me. So, yeah, he definitely leads the team. He’s a great teammate, and a great kid. He is just a really good player, who is a really good kid and a good student.”
While four years is the most a high school coach could ask for being around a student-athlete like Curley, Tingle is dreading looking around and not seeing him around the gym.
But he remained effusive about the last four years.
“It’s definitely going to be weird not seeing him on our teams,” said the coach. “He’s just a special kid. He does everything the right way. He does everything you ask. He always gives his best effort. He never makes excuses. He is just a great example for the kids who are behind him. I can’t say enough good things about him.”