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.
Seton Hall Fans, Coaches Makes Big Impression on Trevon Duval in Return to Jersey
ROSELLE, N.J. — Seton Hall may remain an underdog to blue chip programs Duke, Kansas and Arizona in the Trevon Duval Sweepstakes but rule them out at your own peril.
Seton Hall sounds like a legitimate option for the 6-foot-3 point guard who used to play at St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark and returned to the Garden State for two games this weekend with his IMG Academy (FL) team.
About 150 blue-clad Pirates fans showed out at Roselle Catholic High School on Super Bowl Sunday to support Duval in his showdown against The Patrick School, the No. 1 team in the Garden State. Pirates head coach Kevin Willard and his entire staff were on hand. And several key Seton Hall players, including juniors Angel Delgado and Desi Rodriguez and freshman Myles Powell, Duval’s close friends, were also in the building.
“Man, I was really really surprised by [the fans],” Duval said after scoring 24 points, including a highlight-reel dunk, as IMG Academy handled The Patrick School, 75-66, in the Tom Richel Memorial Hoopfest. “I walked in and [saw] two stands full of Seton Hall fans. I’m glad that they showed love to me and came out and supported.
“There were a lot of fans, the energy was amazing so I really just fed off of it.”
Seton Hall fans have seen this movie before, of course.
In September of 2011, about 50 Seton Hall fans showed up at one of Kyle Anderson’s fall league games at Paterson (N.J.) Kennedy in an effort to persuade the 6-9 point forward to pick the Pirates. He ultimately ended up at UCLA and is now with the San Antonio Spurs.
Like Anderson, Duval is deemed a future pro. He’s currently projected as the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
He’s considering Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Baylor, and Seton Hall would have to beat out those schools to land him. Duval is coming off an official to Kansas last week and heads to Duke this week for the annual rivalry game with North Carolina.
His father, Trevor, told me they plan to take all five official visits in the short month of February, and that dates to Arizona, Baylor and Seton Hall have not yet been firmed up.
“We’re going to take all of our visits this month,” Trevor said.
Seton Hall is appealing to Duval on several levels.
First, he has family and friends in the area, including several in New York.
“It’s good, I mean he misses it,” Trevor Duval said of the warm welcome his son received on Sunday. “He has a lot of friends here he went to school with and some of his family came out to see him. So it’s good. From a young age, he had to sacrifice a lot by playing at a lot of schools [on] a national schedule, so it’s good to come back home and see some of his old coaches and friends come out.”
After leaving API in Dallas after last season following their academic difficulties, Trevon considered playing his senior season in New Jersey.
“He wanted to play at St. Pat’s,” Trevor said. “And he was almost going to go there but we went down and the every day strength training [at IMG Academy] was something he needed for his development. And then the way the classes are, it was like a college, he was on his own.”
If Duval were to choose Seton Hall, he could play regularly in front of family and friends in New Jersey and other Big East areas like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
Second, playing in New Jersey would give Duval an opportunity to be scouted on a regular basis by NBA executives and scouts. A year ago, Chicago Bulls GM Gar Forman attended nine Seton Hall practices and there was some thought the team might draft guard Isaiah Whitehead, now with the Nets. NBA scouts can easily get into and out of Seton Hall games and practices when they come play the Nets or the Knicks.
“That’s something that they definitely pitch to me, something I’m definitely taking into consideration with them,” Trevon told me. “It is great to have all of those types of resources around me but I still don’t know if that’s the best decision yet.”
Third, Duval, a key member of the Under Armour family, could continue to grow his brand in the New York/New Jersey market at Seton Hall. He would regularly be featured in New York newspapers and on New York TV stations, as opposed to those in North Carolina, Arizona, Texas or Kansas.
“It’s a consideration,” Trevor said. “At the end of the day, he has to be comfortable playing there. Wherever he feels comfortable, he’s going to play at. It would be nice to have all those factors, but sometimes those factors can’t all line up.
“It’s definitely a consideration.”
Fourth, and not least important, Duval would be stepping into a veteran-laden Seton Hall that would be poised to make a deep run with the addition of him at the point.
Delgado, Rodriguez, Khadeen Carrington and Ismael Sanogo would all be seniors, and Powell would be a sophomore.
In that respect, Duval could be similar to Derrick Rose when he joined a veteran-laden Memphis team for the 2007-8 season, leading the Tigers to the NCAA championship game under John Calipari. Of course, the Seton Hall fans would like to avoid the part where the wins were vacated.
“I think it’s very similar,” longtime Memphis AAU coach Keith Easterwood said Sunday by phone, adding that Memphis was where Calipari started his run of one-and-dones that he’s continued for nearly a decade at Kentucky.
That Memphis team had veterans like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson and Joey Roberts. (Oh by the way, that Memphis team also brought in two Jersey guys in Hashim Bailey and Jeff Robinson, the latter of St. Pat’s.)
“It was a veteran-laded team but they didn’t have a real good point guard,” Easterwood said. “Rose was the difference-maker. The first six, seven games, if you look at it, people weren’t happy with him. Memphis fans are historically hard on point guards. And then all of a sudden he just started playing his ass off.”
So Seton Hall fans can dream of Duval leading them down a similar path. And Duval appears to be strongly considering the pitch.
Of course, his next visit is to Duke…for the North Carolina game on Thursday.
“I’m excited to go to that North Carolina-Duke game,” he said. “That’s kind of a kid’s dream go go to one of those games and I’m just excited to see what they have to offer.”
Yes, Seton Hall has blue blood competition in this race. But don’t rule them out just yet.
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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 whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.