Even as A Pro Overseas, Peter Hooley Will Always Be a Part of the “Purple Fam”
Depending on who you ask, the term may warrant different interpretations. But for students at the University at Albany, the phrase refers to one thing, and one thing only.
March 14, 2015 will forever be remembered as the day that Peter Hooley, in the waning seconds of the America East Championship Game between UAlbany and Stony Brook, took a tipped ball off the fingertips of fellow Australian teammate Sam Rowley and nailed the game-winning three to send UAlbany to a third straight NCAA tournament. Not only was the shot itself improbable–Hooley turned a tipped ball into UAlbany’s first converted three of the game– but it’s the circumstances surrounding the shot that made it an incredible story. Hooley’s mother had passed away about a month-and-a-half earlier after a long battle with colon cancer. “When you’ve got angels watching you, you can do anything,” Hooley said after that special game.
Fast-forward about 22 months later and Hooley is now embarking on a new journey, embracing every aspect of life in the U.K. while pursuing his lifelong dream of a professional basketball career. Hooley is halfway through his first season with the Plymouth Raiders of the British Basketball League, who recently clinched a berth in the BBL semifinal.
“We’re going to be challenging to win the whole thing so it’s exciting for me.” Hooley said. “For me I’m just trying to do the best I can with the opportunities I’ve been given–anything I can to try and make this team better.”
Even with all the success he has experienced in his first season as a pro, Hooley hasn’t forgotten about his former home court, SEFCU Arena, and his “Purple Fam.”
“The connections I managed to make with so many people. It got to the point in my last couple years I could walk around before or after a game and I knew so many familiar faces. I could have so many good talks with people,” Hooley said. “It’s great to have the Purple Fam with you and I’ll always have that. My memories of winning three championships will live with me forever but it’s those friendships—teammates, coaches and everyone else in Albany– I’ll always cherish that.”
Despite the five-hour time difference and a busy schedule, Hooley still makes sure to watch every UAlbany game from Britain, using it as an opportunity to catch up with the friends he’s made along the way, including former teammates Ray Sanders and Evan Singletary, whom he exchanges phone calls and text messages with while watching the Great Danes. Hooley has also managed to keep in touch with his closest friends from the current UAlbany roster, including fellow Aussies Mike Rowley and Dallas Ennema.
It wouldn’t be right for Hooley to speak about his time in the 518 without mentioning UAlbany’s head coach Will Brown, who is now in his 16th season with the Great Danes. Hooley said he keeps in touch with his former coach every other day, as well as Coach Brown’s wife, Jamie, and the rest of the Brown family. “I can’t say enough praise about him. He was there for me through everything,” Hooley said. “He made me a better basketball player yes, but he made me a better person as well which I can’t thank him enough for.”
With his graduate school work over, Hooley hopes to begin writing a memoir about everything he experienced in college, which he is excited to share with the world. He says his mother and “The Shot” will play a prominent role in it.
Even 22 months later, Hooley is still asked about the iconic shot against Stony Brook that “just can’t seem to escape him”, saying “It’s funny because obviously I’m in a new place but I still hear about it regularly. People tell me it’s the first thing you see when you type my name in on Google. I look back on that shot pretty regularly and is something that really defined my life– not in terms of basketball but everything else it meant.”
For Hooley, the future is bright and he has shown he has everything it takes both on and off the court to be a successful pro at the next level- his maturity, hard work, dedication and commitment to the game as well as his ability to hit the big shot with the game on the line. But regardless of what happens in his basketball future, Hooley will never forget the memories and friendships he’s made at UAlbany. He’ll always be a member of the “Purple Fam” because as they say: Once a Great Dane, always a Great Dane.