Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Seton Hall is hosting one of its future players, and another young man they hope will be.
Melvyn Oliver, a 6-10, 340-pound center from Mississippi Elite Christian Academy, and Jonathan Mitchell, a 6-7 forward from Mount Vernon, are both on campus this weekend.
Oliver and Mitchell went out to dinner Friday night at the Martini Bistro & Bar in Millburn with head coach Bobby Gonzalez the Seton Hall coaching staff and Jonathan’s uncle Herb, who is advising the Florida transfer on his decision. Mitchell is also considering Rutgers and will visit that school beginning Monday.
“It was a pretty good visit,” Herb said Saturday morning by phone. “Everything’s first-class.”
Oliver, who chose Seton Hall over Baylor, Nebraska and Southern Miss, arrived in New Jersey on Friday and said he has yet to sign his Letter of Intent.
“Not yet,” he said Saturday morning by phone. “Hopefully, it might be today or they’re going to send it next week.”
Oliver and Mitchell both spent Friday meeting with Seton Hall AD Joe Quinlan, academic advisor Robin Cunningham and other representatives of the university. They are slated to play in a pickup game this morning at Walsh Gym with Jamar Nutter, Brian Laing and other players before taking a tour of the Prudential Center and then having dinner in New York, Herb Mitchell said.
Herb said the coaches told Jonathan, who spent a year of summer ball playing under Seton Hall assistant Derm Player, that they envision him as a three/four man who can score the way Laing did in being named first-team All-Big East this season.
“They see him as a three/four,” Herb said. “They saw how well he could shoot the ball when he did play at Florida. They have a lot of guards and a lot of tall people, but they didn’t really have skilled people who could shoot the ball like Brian.
“They talked about Brian’s progress from his freshman year to his senior year when he averaged 16 points, how Brian was able to excel in their system. Florida does a lot of pick-and-roll type stuff. (Seton Hall) doesn’t really do a lot of that. They run like Florida but it’s a different style. They look for you to beat people off the dribble, which is really more condusive to how Jon plays.”
Oliver said he and Mitchell have not yet gotten to talk much about possibly playing together.
“We didn’t really start talking about it yet,” he said. “We’re getting to know each other.”
Herb observed that Oliver “looks like he’s pretty serious about geting his weight under control and doing gome damage in the Big East.”
Oliver added that he has several nicknames, including “King Kong,” “Big Fella,” “Big Mel” and “Unknown.”
“I used to do stuff for a big man that I was unknown for,” he said. “Moving fast, dribbling, shooting, jumping.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.