Minnesota Timberwolves guard Randy Foye, a new Rumson resident, has been working out at Rumson-Fair Haven this summer and helping some of the Bulldogs' players, particularly junior guard Matt Blumel, improve during the process

By Scott Stump - Senior Editor

Their backgrounds are wildly different, but basketball has become their common language this summer in a most unlikely pairing.
Even so, Rumson-Fair Haven junior guard Matt Blumel admits that it still sometimes seems a bit surreal that he regularly works out right on his high school court with a burgeoning NBA star.
'I haven't even come to reality yet,'' Blumel said. 'It's ridiculous. He's one of the strongest players I've ever played against. I couldn't ask for any better competition. I was scared to death in my first workout.''
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Randy Foye, who was the No. 7 overall pick of last year's NBA draft and a former star at Villanova and Newark East Side, was looking for a place to work out this summer after buying a home in Rumson. Foye's business manager, Chris Champeau, an assistant under former Villanova legend Rollie Massimino at Northwood University in Florida, also lives in Rumson.
Foye inquired about using Rumson's gym because it was right near his house, and just like that, an NBA player fell right into the lap of new Bulldogs' coach James Young. It also helped that Foye had no problems in working with younger players while making sure he got his workout in as well. He asked Young if there were any players that Young would like to work with him, which resulted in Blumel, point guard Jordan Iarussi and others all joining the workouts.
It certainly can't hurt for a Bulldogs' squad trying to bounce back from a 4-16 season as Young takes over after serving as an assistant for his alma mater, Red Bank Catholic. They are headed in a positive direction, as they went 16-4 in the summer league at Rebounds in Neptune in July, according to Young. Foye's tutelage can only help further their improvement.
Timberwolves guard Randy Foye works on shooting as Rumson-Fair Haven junior guard Matt Blumel, at left, looks on.
'It's fun,'' Foye said about doing drills and playing with Blumel and a handful of others, including former Christian Brothers Academy guard John Planer, a Rumson resident whom Blumel said is transferring to a prep school in New Hampshire.
'When I was growing up (in Newark), I really didn't have anybody to work out with that was older than me and tougher than me to show me things. I worked out with pro guys in the beginning of the summer, but when I can control the tempo of it with the younger kids, it's better.''
'First of all, (Foye's) work ethic is outstanding,'' Young said. 'Just how he carries himself, about how if you get out to a cold start to shrug it off and keep playing. (Blumel's) confidence level has gone up dramatically since the beginning of the summer (because of) working out with Randy.''
Some days the group will strictly run through drills, while other days feature some one-on-one, two-on-two and three-on-three play.
'A lot of ballhandling, a lot of shooting and a good amount of defense - we're working on every part of the game that we can,'' Blumel said.
'In drills, I expect perfection,'' Foye said.
Foye also helps Blumel and the others with the mental aspects of the game, while also showing them that there is another level of strength that they need to attain to take a big step forward. At 6-foot-4 and a solid 200 pounds, Foye is physical for a point guard, which helped him average 10.1 points per game and be selected to the NBA's All-Rookie first team this past season.
'He's definitely motivated me to get in the weight room,'' Blumel said. 'He (also) talks about keeping my emotions inside me and to try to let it all out after the game because college coaches are looking for facial expressions and things like that.''
'It's taught Matt how to become stronger, and it's taught Matt that there's a lot of work to be done before the season,'' Young said.
It's also Foye's way of giving back after a rugged childhood in which he lost both of his parents at an early age in a rough neighborhood in Newark, but persevered to become a star. In addition to helping the players at Rumson, he said he also makes a few trips a week back to his neighborhood in Newark to speak to the youth.
'It was tough, but it helped me become the person I am today,'' he said. 'I don't regret anything. I don't care if they're black, yellow, brown or green as long as they're younger than me and want to learn, I'll help them out.''
Newark is a much different place than Rumson, where athletes, fairly or unfairly, are often saddled with the label of being soft because it is such an affluent area.
'I saw it in the beginning and addressed it,'' Foye said. 'I don't think it's being 'soft,' I think it's not having to compete for anything because they've always had everything handed to them. They've never had to compete for a drink of water or compete to have the luxury to get in a car and go somewhere. They don't know what hard work is and don't know what hunger is.
'Sometimes when they see someone come from where I came from and how it turned out and I explain it to them, then their attitude changes. But these guys are good kids.''
They are also appreciative of the time they get with Foye, who may be familiar to Shore Conference fans for being the star of the Newark East Side team that Neptune defeated in the NJSIAA Group III final at Rutgers in 2002. That was one of the greatest boys basketball teams in Shore history, featuring Taquan Dean, Terrance Todd and Marques Alston, a trio of Division I-A players.
'Yeah, they beat us pretty good,'' Foye said before smiling.
That seems like a long time ago now that Foye is carving out a career with the Timberwolves, who are in rebuilding mode after trading franchise center Kevin Garnett for most of the Celtics' roster in a monster trade recently. Foye declined to discuss the trade of Garnett, but as far as his work with Blumel and the others, he thinks they have some important ingredients for success.
'I definitely see potential,'' Foye said. 'They're good young kids, and they're willing to work hard. Whenever you have that combination, anything can happen.''
'I didn't know what to expect, but he really took me under his wing,'' Blumel said. 'I appreciate it more than anything. No one else in the Shore Conference (has an experience like this).''

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