Meggy Wiley takes a free throw in HoVal’s 64-38 home win over Princeton Feb. 10, 2017. (Mike Schwartz Photography/mikeschwartz.photo.)

Meggy Wiley’s path was pretty much set in stone, unless she wanted to go utterly against the grain of her family.

Wiley’s dad, Don, was a New York Knicks 9th-round draft pick in 1980 after enjoying a Hall of Fame basketball career at Monmouth College (now University). Her mom, Cynthia, was a basketball and field hockey player at Hunterdon Central High School who went on to play field hockey for Slippery Rock.

Then there are her three older brothers Drew and Jeff, who are currently on the Villanova University football roster after standout multisport careers at Hopewell Valley Central High, and Robbie, an HVCHS junior who plays football and basketball for the Bulldogs.

Wiley seems to be following the most closely in her dad’s footsteps, as the sophomore is the second leading scorer on the Bulldogs basketball team.

“In today’s world, saying that you’re a competitive sports family is probably not a good thing, but that’s what we are,” Don said. “It’s just a part of being in this household. Meggy always loved basketball the most. It was something she really wanted to do. We had a hoop and she would shoot baskets more than the three boys.”

Apparently unknown to Don, Wiley mixed it up with her big brothers on the Wiley basketball court at times, and the results have been impressive.

Entering the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III tournament, Meggy is averaging 11.6 points and 4.7 rebounds with 14 blocked shots and 27 steals. What’s most impressive is how she has come in the latter half of the season. In her last eight games, dating back to Jan. 31, Wiley has averaged 16.9 points and 5.6 rebounds. She exploded for 26 and 10 in an upset victory over Allentown Feb. 15.

“Meggy’s primary role is to be a secondary scorer with Kirsten Long,” coach Jeff Losch said. “She is our best option to score close to the basket and helps stretch the floor with her shooting range. Defensively, she has improved as a rebounder and is continuing to work on her overall defense.”

Wiley played rec softball growing up but basketball has always been her go-to sport. Don remembers the night, several years ago, when he was inducted into the Monmouth Hall of Fame.

“She was like, eight years old and I remember her saying to me ‘How do I get here?’” Don said. “I just said ‘Work hard, and you never know.’ But that really meant a lot to me that she would ask something like that at that age.”

Don added that Wiley “kind of stayed away from the boys, they were rough and tumble all the time playing football and basketball. But she was always focused on playing sports. She would go her way and do her thing.”

Wiley said that’s not entirely true, and that she earned some bro bruises.

“I just always remember playing with my brothers outside,” she said. “I guess that just gave me tough skin. Playing with them, they’re all aggressive and they’re huge. I think it’s easier for me when I go and play. I take my toughness and I can play against taller and bigger girls.”

‘Meggy definitely brings a certain amount of toughness on the court.’

There were times, however, she was not allowed inside the boys club.

“Sometimes they didn’t let me play because I was the only girl,” she said.

Asked who was always the toughest on her, Wiley did not hesitate, saying, “Definitely Jeffrey.”

Wiley played travel basketball with Cynthia as her coach, and has been playing AAU since fifth grade. She is currently with the United NJ out of Hunterdon County, and made the HVCHS varsity in ninth grade.

“Meggy did a nice job as a freshman,” Losch said. “She had a nice touch around the basket and scored a bit. Her biggest area of improvement to earn more playing time this year was going to be her defense. She has gotten better throughout the season, which has earned her more playing time. That has helped the team because we need her scoring.”

Losch noted that Wiley possesses the skills of a guard and strength and toughness of a post player, which gives him some lineup flexibility. Her shooting began improving when she stopped rushing her shot, while her grit has always been there.

“Meggy definitely brings a certain amount of toughness on the court,” the coach said. “She is used to getting knocked around by her three older brothers, so there’s not much on the court that will intimidate her. She also plays a lot of basketball year-round, so she’s got a lot of experience for a sophomore.”

Her constant play also makes her more talented. Losch feels she catches opponents off guard with her shooting touch “because you expect her to play more physical, like her brothers. She puts the time in to improve her skills and become a better player.”

Wiley wasn’t feeling like a good player after scoring just two points against Manchester Township on March 28. That capped a six-game stretch in which she averaged just 5.8 points.

The next game she scored 14 in an upset win over Ewing, hitting a late 3-pointer to put the team ahead for good, and has been on a tear ever since.

“My dad told me after every game that when I shoot I have to have confidence,” Wiley said. “After the Ewing game, once I saw I could shoot like that it does a lot for my mentality. I think I just got more confidence in my ability.”

She also has confidence in what her dad tells her.

“He knows a lot about the game,” Wiley said. “My brothers and I all have this one signature move (a jump hook) that we do, and we got it from him. He’s probably the biggest part of my basketball career. He’s always the one telling us we have to do better. He gives us so much advice.”

Don, who played three years of professional basketball in the Eastern League after being released by the Knicks, will be glad to hear he still has more sway than Wiley’s hair stylist.
“I told her that her team needed her to score, and one way to help them win is to not pass up the open shot,” Don said. “I told her that before the Ewing game, and she got a haircut that day. She had a good game and after that claimed it was because of the haircut. But my sons are right, she’s still my little girl.”

And she’s doing big things in following the family tradition.