By David Cordova
Basketball in the borough of Queens is something that is very unique. Players from that borough are always up for competition, especially when they play at Cardozo High School. Over the last four years, there is one player that has made his name and presence felt. That player is none other than Ray Salnave.
Salnave, a 6-2 senior guard, has been one of the most talented prospects in New York City ever since he first stepped foot in Cardozo as a freshman. “When I was younger, people always said I had a bad attitude, but they mistook my passion for the game.” Salnave says. “What led me to Cardozo was my relationship with Coach Billy Medley, he’s like family, he told me that he’d work with me and that we could build something.”
When asked about playing for the legendary Ron Naclerio, he said, “He knows the game and he has a lot of knowledge and we both want to win, so it’s been a great fit for me these last couple of years at Cardozo.”
In his sophomore year, Salnave led the Judges to the promised land, to a PSAL city championship over Thomas Jefferson, for the first time in 15 years. “It was big, it was huge for me. There were a lot of nerves going through my body, it was the first time that I had ever been on a big stage that I had always dreamed about. It was a humbling experience and I was happy that I was a part of it.”
Following that amazing championship run, Salnave made noise on the AAU circuit with the Juice All-Stars, but then his summer was cut short by a knee injury. “It was tough getting hurt, I missed a couple of live periods and I wasn’t able to showcase my abilities the way I wanted to. And because of my injury, I started to gain weight because I wasn’t able to work out.”
In his junior year, although Salnave wasn’t 100% physically, he helped lead Cardozo to a 29-3 record and made it to the PSAL city championship once again, but ultimately the Judges fell to eventual New York city and state champions, Wings Academy. “We made it back there and came up short. I felt that my injury played a role in the loss. If I had been healthy, things would have been better for me and things would have turned out differently. I also felt should have worked my butt off more to make sure I had been in tip-top shape.”
Last summer, after only one session on the Under Armour circuit, Salnave decided to stop playing AAU basketball for the rest of the summer, but it did not stop him from competing in the first-ever Under Armour All-American Camp in Charlotte, North Carolina in July amongst many of the country’s finest talent. “Playing in the camp was good, it was the first time that they had it. I was blessed to be a part of it, I learned a lot from the coaches and camp directors that were there. It was an awesome experience.”
Before the start of the season began, there was one final choice for him to make. Where would he attend college? On October 1st, Salnave chose Monmouth University as his collegiate choice. When asked why he chose Monmouth, he replied, “I felt Monmouth would be the best place for me. They were consistent, they showed great interest in me. They made sure I was doing great. It was just their consistency, which really caught me. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff and one of the assistants, Duane Woodward is a Cardozo guy, so that sealed the deal.”
His senior season was nothing short of spectacular for Salnave as he has averaged 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game and led Cardozo to wins against schools such as Mount Vernon, PSAL rivals QHST and Construction and two victories against perennial powerhouse, Christ the King, one of which led to the Judges’ second straight SNY Invitational championship. However, Salnave’s hopes for another championship were squandered when the Judges were eliminated in the PSAL quarterfinals by Westinghouse at Baruch College on February 28th.
“Overall, I think I had great career. Senior year was the year I wanted most though. But hey, when life gives you lemons you either make that sweet lemonade or you’re gonna be stuck with that sour taste. Now, I made lots of lemonade, don’t get me wrong, but ending it with that sour taste was a feeling I wish I never had. I do think it was a success, but then again it wasn’t. I’ve had successful moments, but I wasn’t successful when I needed to be and that’s the only negative.”
Now that Salnave’s high school career has come to a close, he now has a Division I college scholarship to look forward to at Monmouth, which had a tremendous season at 28-8 and made an appearance in the NIT. He is poised to make an impact for the Hawks next season in the always tough MAAC. No matter the obstacle, Salnave is bound to perservere.
“I want to go in there and capitalize on the winning attitude & get us back to the MAAC championship and leave as the winner and also make an appearance in the NCAA tournament and progress as the years go by. Coach Rice & the others will help me grow as a player & a young man, as they are already.”