This month, in our third installment of the Success Series we focus on a Wildcat basketball legend who was recognized for his hard work and dedication on the court at Villanova but became a legend overseas after his college career. This story is about the success of Andrew Sullivan.
Andrew Sullivan was born on February 12th, 1980 as the only child of his mother, Eunice Sullivan, in London, England. At the age of 16, he moved to the United States to attend St. Augustine College Preparatory in Richland, New Jersey. Over his high school career he accumulated 1,368 points. In his senior year, Sullivan averaged 19.8 points a game leading his team to a 24-6 record and being named First team All-State and “South Jersey Player of the Year”.
Leader Johnson: How is London?
Andrew Sullivan: I'm actually not in London very much. I'm spending most of my time in the East Midlands and North East.
Leader Johnson: How was it growing up as a kid?
Andrew Sullivan: I loved growing up in London. I had all of my family around me. Everyone was 15 - 20 minutes tops away from where I lived with my mom.
Leader Johnson: How was it when you first moved to the U.S.?
Andrew Sullivan: When I first moved to the states I really struggled and was extremely home sick.
Leader Johnson: When did you know you wanted to play basketball?
Andrew Sullivan: I loved basketball as soon as I started playing at 13 but didn't understand that there was a chance to really play professionally.
Leader Johnson: What were your first struggles of adjusting to America and basketball in America?
Andrew Sullivan: The basketball wasn't a problem to be honest. It was hard adapting to life. I came from London to South Jersey which was a massive culture shock for me.
Leader Johnson: What made you choose St. Augustine?
Andrew Sullivan: Rich Marccuci had a lot to do with helping me get to the states as well as my coaches in the UK - Joe White and Tony Garbelotto. Rich suggested St Augustine so he could watch over me while I was there.
Sullivan came to Villanova in 1999. Though not spectacular, over his career he was a pivotal player for his Wildcat teams. He was an athletic forward and versatile defender that could guard multiple positions. He established himself immediately his freshman year as a presence especially in an 86-69 win over Notre Dame in which he made several spectacular plays. In his junior season of 2001-02, he was the only Wildcat to start all 32 games even. He finished his career with 423 points, 375 rebounds, 112 assists, 64 steals, 55 blocks, and plenty of great defense.
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Leader Johnson: What led you to choose Villanova?
Andrew Sullivan: I liked the fact that ‘Nova was so close to where I lived in Jersey. Plus I had a really good relationship with then assistant coach, Joe Jones.
Leader Johnson: What was your first taste of minutes - how did you feel to get some action as a Wildcat?
Andrew Sullivan: I was really excited to get started. Pre-season felt like an eternity and I just wanted to play.
Leader Johnson: Do you remember your last game as a Wildcat? When was your last game?
Andrew Sullivan: It would have been Senior Night if I remember correctly.
Leader Johnson: Who were some of the players you remember playing with and what guys did you have the best relationship with on the team?
Andrew Sullivan: Ricky Wright, Gary Buchanan, Brooks Sales, Malik Allen so many great guys. I would say Ricky was the person I was closest with. We hung out a lot with Louie Ruskey who was a walk-on and the person I lived with in high school.
Where Andrew Sullivan reached his peak and full potential was when he went overseas and was a 6-time MVP. In 2004, he was named MVP of the British League championship game in which he led the Newcastle Eagles to a championship. He averaged 18 points and 5 rebounds in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Sullivan scored a tournament high 23 points against South Africa playing for the England National team that won the bronze medal in those games. In 2006, he scored 18 points to go with11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals to earn the MVP while leading Newcastle to a clean sweep of championship trophies.
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Leader Johnson: When did you make the decision to go back overseas and play and why? Did you already have your mind made up before college was over?
Andrew Sullivan: By the time I was a senior I knew I was never going to make the NBA but I still wanted to play professionally.
Leader Johnson: Why did you leave the Netherlands to play ball in the British league?
Andrew Sullivan: There was a great opportunity to go back to England and play on a competitive team. So I decided that would have been great for my development.
Leader Johnson: How was it playing for Dexia Mons-Hainaut in Belgium and CSK VVS Samara of the Russian Basketball League?
Andrew Sullivan: Both experiences were great in their own right. I learned a ton from time spent at both teams and had the opportunity to experience life and basketball in countries I wouldn't have gone to otherwise.
Leader Johnson: What was your greatest accomplishment playing overseas?
Andrew Sullivan: I would say my greatest accomplishment would have to be playing on so many competitive teams. Very few of them didn't meet or exceed expectations
Leader Johnson: How did playing for Villanova help your game?
Andrew Sullivan: I don't necessarily think it was Villanova alone that helped my game. It was the coaching staff. Especially the coaching staff under Coach Wright. He challenges you as an athlete to get the most out of the abilities and gifts you have. I owe him a great deal.
Leader Johnson: Did you ever want to play in the NBA? Have your tried out?
Andrew Sullivan: It was definitely something that I dreamed about but sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and I knew I wasn't good enough.
Leader Johnson: You are a legend in British basketball. What guy was looked at as a legendary player when you were coming up playing basketball as a kid?
Andrew Sullivan: Steve Bucknall played at North Carolina and for the Lakers. He was someone that we all knew about.
Leader Johnson: Who is your favorite player you like to watch in Pro ball and who did you come up idolizing?
Andrew Sullivan: My favorite players to watch were Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen. I wouldn't say there was anyone that I idolized to be honest.
Leader Johnson: How many titles and championships have you won?
Andrew Sullivan: I believe I've won 20 championships over here in Britain as well as a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Leader Johnson: You have had amazing accomplishments with Britain and England. Where did you decide to end your career?
Andrew Sullivan: I ended my career in Leicester.
Leader Johnson: You gave your heart to the game. What do you want your legacy to be?
Andrew Sullivan: I'd like to be remembered as a good, hard-working kid from Hackney that happened to be half decent at basketball.
Hard work, dedication, class and, yes, he wasn't just half decent … he became a very good basketball player. Realizing his path had to change he not only changed it but he elevated it through patience and constant hard work. Villanova and British basketball legend Andrew Sullivan is a Success.