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Super Seniors: On to Richmond for William Tennent star Kirby Mooney


In December 2015, Smithsonian Magazine article reported that spiders build their webs beginning at the outside and “working their way in.”

Kirby Mooney took the opposite approach to developing his basketball game. The William Tennent star built it from the inside-out.

Much of Mooney’s success “is versatility,” said Tennent hoops coach Robert Mulville. “He is able to do a lot of things on the court that other kids can’t and he was able to do those things at a very young age. When he came in as a freshman, he was able to finish at the rim with his right and his left. And while some kids can shoot a left-handed layup, can they finish in traffic? He was able to do that right from the very beginning.

“As a sophomore, he was tall but he was thin yet he was still able to absorb contact, get to the rim and foul line,” Mulville continued. “That part of his game might get overlooked. He was always able to put pressure on the other team’s defense. He put us in bonus foul shots consistently throughout his whole career.”

“Coming into high school, I was strong at getting to the rim and finishing at the rim,” Mooney echoed. The 6-foot-3 Richmond Spiders-signee was comfortable anywhere inside the paint.

“As time went on, I needed to develop a stronger 3-point shot and that has been my focus every offseason,” Mooney continued. “Everyone can shoot in college, but especially if you are 6-2 or 6-3 you have to be able to shoot. In my jump from junior to senior year, I doubled the amount of 3s I made. There is definitely work that needs to be done but I can see the improvements.”

Mooney spun an impressive career for himself at Tennent. On Groundhog Day, Mooney sank an early free throw in a win over New Hope-Solebury that gave him his 1,344th career point. It broke the 22-year-old Tennent career scoring mark. Mooney added 87 more points before his season ended. It bears reminding that Mooney did this despite a COVID-shortened freshman season.

Breaking the scoring mark and playing Division I basketball “always have been dreams. They really started to kick in in between sophomore to junior year,” Mooney shared. “I averaged 17 a game my sophomore year, and then it really started to kick in through my junior year. I was averaging about 24 points per game and we were 8-2. I was hearing from schools, including a few lower Division I. Averaging that many points, I was getting closer and closer to the record.”

This season, Mooney averaged 23.5 points, eight rebounds and nearly four assists per game as he helped lead the Panthers to consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in nearly 20 years.

“I was the only returning starter from last year’s team. We had little experience at the varsity level. But I was extremely proud of all of my teammates, especially the starters who stepped up,” Mooney shared. “Our starting guard, Chris D’Ambra, was first team all-league and he came off the bench last year. Our starting forward Imad Abunima was second team all-league. They jumped big time and I was beyond proud of them. Sean Devine had a great year. His task was to guard the other team’s best player.”

It is ironic that Mooney didn’t even play in one of his favorite prep moments, but that moment also shows his passion for teamwork. When Tennent beat NH-S in February 2023 to clinch its first division title in 21 years and cut down nets, Mooney sat out with a sore elbow. In the prior contest, a huge 60-56 win over Cheltenham, which gave Tennent a two-game lead over that rival with two games to play, Mooney had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Mooney grew up a University of Richmond Spiders fan literally since birth. His uncle, Chris Mooney, has been U of R’s head coach since 2005, amassing 348 wins there. When Mooney signed with Richmond as a preferred walk-on in May, it was “a dream come true.”

Basketball, needless to say, runs in the Mooney family. Tennent won Holy Ghost’s 2022 Jack Schott Tournament and Kirby had 54 points in the two games. “(Holy Ghost) was my favorite game all throughout high school – it was my dad’s school, we won the tournament and I got named tournament MVP,” Mooney explained. “It was very memorable for my family and me.”

A likely finance or business major, Mooney is also in the top 10% of his class at Tennent and lives a life as versatile as his basketball game. He is in several honor societies, student government, the Athletic Council and he mentors freshmen in math. “I really enjoy helping kids out and they like me in the class,” Mooney said. “It keeps me busy and as much as I like basketball being on my mind 24/7, this creates more of a balance. I like being involved. I really loved William Tennent and I think they do an amazing job for creating multiple opportunities to get kids involved. I wanted to take advantage of that.”

Mulville shared a story of Tennent canceling classes before a pending snow storm in Mooney’s freshman year … and Mooney was still pacing around the gym hoping for Mulville to let him in to shoot. The coach did.

“That was his work ethic. He probably didn’t need to shoot that many 3s as a junior because we had some really good 3-point shooters on that team,” Mulville pointed out, “but he looked at it and said, ‘This will have to be a part of my game’ because these guys graduate so he worked on his outside shot. The ability to want to get better and be intense about it. Those kind of things really put him at the top.”

Super Seniors is a five-part series highlighting some exceptional area members of the Class of 2024.

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