Police say that a promising college basketball player was killed in New Jersey’s nature preserve just before Christmas over a small amount of marijuana.
Police arrived at Hopewell Valley Nature Preserve around ten miles north of Trenton at 7:17 p.m. December 17 to find Phil Urban, a 20-year-old post-university basketball player, “slumbering over” his Mercedes-C-class Mercedes. Urban had suffered a gunshot wound and was clearly in serious medical distress when he found his car parked on a preserve trail. He was taken by police to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead shortly after arriving.
According to a news release by Hopewell Police Chief James Rosso and Angelo Onofri, the initial investigation revealed that Urban went to the preserve “to make friends” and was then shot. Further investigation revealed that Urban was actually accompanied by two teenage boys, one 16-year-old and one seventeen-year-old. They allegedly lured Urban to the park in order to rob him of approximately a quarter-pound worth of marijuana.
Two suspects, who were not named due to their age, were charged with a wide range of serious offenses, including murder, felonious murder, robbery, and weapons offenses, one week after the shooting. The suspects are currently being held at the Middlesex County Youth Detention Center, New Jersey. However, there is a possibility that they could be tried as adults. It is not known when they will be appearing in court.
Urban’s short life seems to have had a profound impact on many lives, particularly within the basketball community. Urban’s sense of humor, quiet determination, and wit were noted by many coaches.
Marc Kuntz, Post University’s men’s basketball coach, said that he was a “good kid”. Post was a great place for him. It’s tragic.
Kuntz said, “His quiet sense and humor was infectious, he was an important part of our basketball team.”
Urban’s former club, the New Jersey Panthers released a statement claiming that Urban had “a great sense of humor” and was “one of the most liked student-athletes in the organization by both staff and players.”
As a freshman, Urban had limited playing time with Post, a Division II school in Waterbury, Connecticut. In four games this season, the 6-foot-6, 204-lb. forward from Manalapan, New Jersey, averaged 2.5 points per game. He is survived by at least one sister, according to reports.