Many of the top senior high school players in the country participated in the second annual Allen Iverson Roundball Classic on Saturday night at Souderton Area High.
A lot of spectators in the nearly filled gymnasium kept a close watch on a pair of participants: 6-foot point guard Jahvon Quinerly, of Hudson Catholic (N.J.), and 6-6 wing Brandon Slater, of Paul VI (Va.).
That’s because Quinerly, who is ranked No. 28 in the 2018 ESPN 100, and Slater (No. 42) have committed to play at national champion Villanova. They will join Jay Wright and the Wildcats in June.
“I’m just trying to have fun with my peers, some of whom I’ve played with and against on the AAU circuit, and show some of the Villanova fans my competitive nature,” Quinerly said before the fast-paced contest.
Slater is trying to return to top form after missing “between 10 to 12 games” of his senior campaign due to a case of pneumonia and a broken hand. He returned in time to help Paul VI win the VISAA Division I state title.
Iverson arrived late in the first half. He wore a New York Yankees cap, white T-shirt, a large gold chain, and blue sweatpants with white trim.
“This was a chance for me to meet Allen Iverson, so that’s partly why I decided to come,” Quinerly said.
In what was a three-day event that included a dunk contest and three-point shootout on Thursday, Iverson talked to the players at a ceremony on Friday night.
“I never thought in a million years that I would get to meet Allen Iverson and hear from him what it takes to be a great player,” Slater said.
Quinerly originally committed to Arizona last August but switched gears when the coach who recruited him was arrested in a federal investigation of corruption in college basketball. He orally committed to Villanova in February.
“The culture at Villanova is so amazing,” he said. “It’s such a great family atmosphere. The players are brothers on and off the court. I wanted to be part of that.”
Slater orally committed to the Wildcats last May.
“A big thing was the way I saw the players interacting with each other,” he said. “Also, they were real welcoming on my visit there.”
Shareef O’Neal, a power forward from Crossroads School (Calif.) and the son of basketball hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal, played with Quinerly for Team Loyalty, a 148-134 winner over Team Honor. O’Neal’s thunderous first-quarter dunk drew huge oohs and aahs from the crowd.
The 6-9, 220-pound O’Neal, who also committed originally to Arizona, chose UCLA over runners-up USC and LSU.
“Even before I was considered a good high school player, the UCLA coaches told me I had potential,” he said. “That meant a lot to me.”
O’Neal, ranked No. 29 in the 2018 ESPN 100, said it “has not been a burden” being the son of an NBA great and well-known television personality.
“I just go about my business and do my thing,” the 18-year-old said. “I don’t get caught up in what people expect from me because of my dad.”