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.
Melvyn Oliver, a 6-11, 340-pound center from Mississippi Elite Christian Academy, gave an oral commitment to Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez Tuesday morning.
“The reason I chose them is because I think they’re the perfect situation for me,” Oliver said Tuesday by phone. “I think Seton Hall is the one. They’re the school that can get me further in my career.”
“He’ll be headed out next week (for a visit),” added Melvin Oliver, Melvyn’s father. “He’s extremely excited. Those guys at Seton Hall did a phenomenal job. Coach Gonzalez, he’s an energy guy. If there’s a car out there with three wheels, he’s gonna sell it to you.”
Baylor, Nebraska and Southern Miss had previously been options for Oliver, a California native who has attended four high schools. He averaged 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in his first year at the Mississippi school, which went 20-5 on the prep circuit. Victor Evans, Oliver’s coach, said South Florida and MIssissippi State were still trying to get involved. Oliver can sign until May 21, the end of the late signing period.
If Oliver arrives on campus, he would join Paterson Catholic guard Jordan Theodore in Seton Hall’s recruiting class. The Pirates still have three scholarships left and are also involved with 6-7 swing man JonathanMitchell of Mount Vernon (N.Y.), who is transferring from Florida, 6-10 forward Maurice Sutton of Largo (Md.) High and 6-5 shooting guard Chris Turner of Humble (Texas) Christian Life Center.
Oliver, ranked as the top player in Mississippi by HoopScoop, visited Nebraska this past weekend and is slated to visit Seton Hall the weekend of May 2.
“I liked Nebraska but I feel very strongly about Seton Hall so I’m staying with my first thought,” Oliver said.
Gonzalez and assistant Derm Player visited Oliver in Jackson, Miss. April 13.
“My son was headed in another direction (Southern Miss) and after a visit with Coach Gonzalez, it was, ‘Seton Hall it is,'” Melvin said.
“He’ll plug up that middle for them. He’ll be that body that Coach Gonzalez said he’s been missing in the middle.”
Oliver said he feels comfortable shooting from 17 feet out and has a variety of post moves. Evans said the Seton Hall style, four out and one in, would be condusive to Oliver’s style.
“I’m a versatile player,” Oliver said.
Evans said Oliver still had to take the ACT but he expected him to qualify.
“We don’t expect any hiccups,” Evans said.
Evans said Gonzalez was very high on the young man, but encouraged him to drop some additional weight. After losing 35 pounds,Oliver is currently at about 340 pounds and said he’d like to get down to about 315.
“Bobby loves what he sees in Melvyn,” Evans said. “A guy that size with the skill level, he passes, he has great hands, his skill level is off the chart for a guy his size. He has something to work with. You don’t have to teach him how to score.
“His endurance is a lot better. He plays in longer stretches and at full speed. We’ve got to continue to build on that.”
Melvin Oliver said his son almost “quit basketball” and “gave everything up” last year while dealing with concerns about his grades and his weight during his senior year at Living Faith Christian High School in Cherry Hill, N.J. Before that, Oliver had spent three years at Cheyenne High in North Las Vegas (Nev.).
Oliver was kicked out of Living Faith after clashing with the coach, his father said, and then returned home for the second half of his senior season at Lawndale (Calif.) Leuzinger High, where he did not play basketball.
“At one point I stopped playing ball,” he said. “I didn’t think it was for me for a minute.”
But Oliver said he realized basketball could take him places in life and now enjoys playing.
Melvin said his son has matured greatly during his time in Jackson.
“He’s just settling down,” the father said. “Now he’s gotten on a path where he’s able to set a plan and he’ll follow through.
“Now he’s more organized and more disciplined. He’ll be OK.”
“He’s a good kid,” Evans said. “He’s a good person.”
DAVIS TO LOYOLA MARYMOUNTFormer Seton Hall guard Larry Davis will play at Loyola Marymount beginning in 2009, according to the Daily News.
Davis, a 6-5 sophomore, verbally committed to new LMU coach Bill Bayno after visiting with him over the weekend. Davis was recently released from his Seton Hall scholarship.
“When Billy heard about Larry’s release he acted quickly,” Davis’ father, Larry Sr., told the Daily News “He made the trip from California to see Larry in our living room. That was impressive. Larry didn’t want to go far from home but after meeting with Billy and seeing the type of commitment he’s making, Larry wanted to go to LMU.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.