When the basketball season ends in March an era will come to an end at Riverside-Brookfield High School. Senior John Paul (also known as J.P.) Hanley is the last of six Hanleys — five boys and one girl — to play basketball for the Bulldogs.
There has been a Hanley playing basketball at RBHS every year since 2006.
Ironically, Walter and Lisa Hanley’s eldest child didn’t play basketball at the school. William Hanley, who is now an engineer for Micron Technology in Dallas, was cut when he tried out for basketball as a freshman. However, William did play football for four years for the Bulldogs.
But all the kids who came after William — Nathaniel, Andrew, Ryan, Therese, Patrick and John Paul — played varsity basketball for the Bulldogs, and most were starters. Patrick Hanley made 100 three-pointers in the 2018-19 season, the second most in a single season in RBHS history, trailing only Dan Howe, who made 103 three pointers during the 1990-91 season.
J.P. is the leading scorer for the Bulldogs this year, averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 40 percent from beyond the three-point line and 73.5 percent within the arc. While all the Hanleys were good shooters, it’s J.P., who has been a varsity starter since midway through his sophomore season, is probably the best all-around player of them all.
“They all had really productive high school careers,” said RBHS coach Mike Reingruber, who has coached all the Hanley boys. “I would say, when it’s all said and done, J.P. had the most productive high school career.”
Basketball is a passion in the Hanley household. The kids’ dad, Walter, averaged 23.5 points per game at the now defunct Mazon-Verona-Kinsman High School which was located in Grundy County about 70 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
Walter played college basketball at Rosary College in River Forest, now known as Dominican University. At 55, Walter, an attorney who works as a senior vice president for corporate development for an auto parts manufacturer, still is a very active and competitive and recreational basketball player.
“Word on the street is that Walter was a legend in the Riverside men’s league back in the day,” Reingruber said.
Mom Lisa Hanley, who met Walter in middle school, was a point guard at Mazon-Vernona-Kinsman.
Since 2005, the Hanleys have lived in a Riverside home that has a large garage used by a former owner to store antique cars. The Hanleys had a different vision for the garage. They turned it into a basketball half-court.
“We bought our house because we were able to convert the garage into a gym,” Walter said.
The site of constant shooting practice and pickup basketball games, the garage has three-point and free throw lines painted concrete floor. During the pandemic, the garage is where J.P. honed his shot and played with his brothers and friends.
“It’s nice because it’s enclosed so you can shoot during rain or snow or any weather,” J.P. said. “It gets really cold in there during the winter, but you can really tough through it. It’s fine.”
Growing up, J.P. tried to keep up with his older brothers.
“It’s always been really competitive, I’ve got to say that,” J.P. said. “Since I’m the youngest, I was always a little bit behind all my brothers so I had to play up, be really competitive just to compete with them at all.”
The older brothers never took it easy on J.P.
“They never let me win,” J.P. said. “I think the biggest upside my brothers gave me was toughness — constantly getting beat and just having to come back with resilience.”
Toughness is a characteristic all the Hanleys share. They were all hard workers who loved to practice.
“All the brothers are gym rats,” Reingruber said. “They’ve all loved to play and be in the gym. You could see it from the time they were real young.”
The days of his brothers beating up on him are long past. During the Christmas break it was confirmed that J.P. –now 6-foot-3 — is now the tallest Hanley child.
“They would beat up on the youngest when they could,” Walter said. “It’s payback now, because he’s now bigger than all of them.”
Later this year J.P. will have a big decision to make. He is being recruited by many top Division III college programs, including MIT, but may opt to follow five of his six siblings to the University of Illinois.
“I’m not really sure yet, but I’m thinking heavily on going to U of I,” J.P. said.
Like his siblings, J.P. is an excellent student, ranking 11th in his graduating class. He only missed one question on the math portion of the SAT on his way to a 790 score last year. Following in the footsteps of three of his brothers, he wants to study engineering.
Andrew, who attended NIU and earned a master’s in engineering management from the University of Wisconsin, is an engineer for Raytheon. Patrick is three semesters away from an engineering degree from the University of Illinois.
Nathaniel is a certified public account while Ryan has degrees in accounting and finance and works in investment banking. Therese works as a nurse at Loyola University Medical Center.
No matter what J.P. does next year, basketball will remain an important aspect of life for all the Hanleys, playing wherever and whenever they can. They have left their mark on RBHS basketball.
“I think they really scream what the culture of our program is about with their commitment and their love for basketball,” Reingruber said.
This story has been changed to correct the year the Hanley children first started playing basketball at RBHS.