Marchiano marches to his own beat

At St. Edmund’s Prep, a small co-ed high school on Ocean Ave. in South Brooklyn, there is no question who the big man on campus is.

“Everyone knows who Vinny is, whether you’re a freshman, a senior, a faculty member, administrator,” said Dan Wiatre, St. Edmund athletic director and basketball coach. “He’s definitely the face of St. Edmund’s basketball and athletics this year.”

Vinny Marchiano is a star at St. Edmund Prep, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard who is quickly closing in on becoming the third 1,000-point scorer in school history. But in the ever-growing galaxy of high school basketball, Marchiano is a relative unknown.

“He’s definitely the most underrated player in our league, not by the players and coaches in our league, they know who he is,” said Wiatre, acknowledging his bias. “But in terms of the colleges being all over him like he should be, he doesn’t get the proper attention, no doubt about it.”

Marchiano could have gone to a higher profile school. He said Xaverian and Bishop Ford were his other choices, but he found a perfect fit at St. Edmund Prep.

“I didn’t like Xaverian because it wasn’t co-ed and Bishop Ford was too big,” he said. “At St. Edmund everyone knows everyone, everyone is close. It’s a good environment to be in.”

Marchiano said he’s received looks from Division II and Division III schools, but he’s thus far been disappointed not to get a solid Division I offer like others at better-known Brooklyn programs Bishop Loughlin and Lincoln. The 18-year-old senior, though, never considered transferring.

“It does frustrate me a little bit, but not like I’m angry, just a little disappointed,” Marchiano said. “It’s motivation to play even harder so people talk about me even more and more.”

Wiatre first heard about the legend of Vinny Marchiano, who was a standout at Our Lady of Grace, five years ago. Marchiano’s father inquired about the school’s summer basketball camp and shortly thereafter Wiatre saw Marchiano play in person at an eighth-grade tournament hosted by St. Edmund’s.

“He was probably the best player in the neighborhood,” Wiatre said. “He was very mature, very strong, very physical, but now he’s got the skills to go along with that. But my first impression was this kid was tremendous.”

Wiatre said he struggled with the decision to keep Marchiano on the freshman level.

“It was tough for me to watch [the freshman team] practice and then go on the court knowing we were one player short of really doing some serious damage,” Wiatre said.

Marchiano’s coming out party came at the end of his sophomore year when he scored the game-winning basket in a first-round playoff win against Cardinal Spellman.

“Vinny got a steal in the last seconds of the game and went coast-to-coast, laid the ball off the backboard at the buzzer and we beat Spellman,” Wiatre said. “It was very emotional because that group worked as hard as they could for me, but we were just outmanned. That was the first of many games he’s won for us.”

Marchiano was an all-league selection last year, averaging 19.3 points per game. While other team’s top players hit the AAU circuit to garner Division I looks, Marchiano and his St. Edmund’s teammates played together in local team camps.

Some nagging injuries and the death of his grandfather attributed to a slow start to his senior season, but Marchiano has been on a tear of late, averaging 26 points per game over the last six games, including a 54-52 win against Xavier on Tuesday.

“We geared our whole defense toward stopping him and we still couldn’t stop him,” Xavier coach Joe McGrane said. “One of his shots was from about 25 feet out. They were all rhythm shots. He shoots the ball from distance, he has a quick release. He’s a tough matchup for any team because he can shoot from 23 [feet] and he can also post up and they do a good job of using him in both situations.”

Marchiano has moved past St. Edmund’s assistant coach Rob Wiatre, Dan’s brother, into fifth all-time on the school’s scoring list with 934 points. His goal of joining Matt Vitale, Andreas Pope and Chris Bernard in the 1,000-point club is well within reach.

“I kept it in my thoughts since freshman year,” Marchiano said.

Wiatre doesn’t like to think about it, but he knows the end of Marchiano’s run at St. Edmund’s is coming to an end. He said it will be an emotional Senior Night, but Marchiano has a different perspective. He’s looking forward to a deep playoff run and what he hopes is increased attention by college coaches with each postseason victory.

“I don’t see it coming to an end on a bad note,” Marchiano said. “I see it coming to an end on a good note. I’m going to be leaving here happy because I know that me and my teammates can beat Iona [Prep]. I don’t think my last game will be emotional. It will probably be one of the best games we’re ever going to play because we know it’s going to be our last and we want to make the most of it.”