ROCKINGHAM — Basketball has been an avenue that has opened Paul McNeil Jr. to a whole new world.
With the high school season ending last month, complete with leading the Raiders to a runner-up finish in the state championship, McNeil has taken to the skies and traveled across the country to play in tournaments.
The Richmond Senior High School standout and North Carolina State University commit recently played in the inaugural Chris Brickley Invitational in Chicago and went to Omaha, Neb., last weekend.
And later this summer McNeil Jr. will spend a week overseas participating in a camp hosted by Adidas in Italy.
“Basketball has opened so many doors for me,” McNeil Jr. said. “I want to thank God as always, especially now that I’m going places and seeing things I never thought I’d get to do.
“As weird as it sounds, I want to thank the basketball world and everyone I’ve encountered. It’s done a lot for me and my family and made me a better person. I’m extremely blessed and this is just the beginning.”
On April 14, McNeil Jr. was part of an All-American showcase hosted by Brickley. One of 20 hoopsters invited, McNeil Jr. got to work out with the famed NBA trainer.
Held at 167 Green Street, a highrise located in the Fulton Market neighborhood of Chicago, the invitational was held on the top floor, which features a window-lined indoor court that showcases the Windy City’s skyline.
The 20 players were split into two teams and played a game, complete with quarters and halves.
“It was a really cool experience,” McNeil Jr. said. “They flew us in and showed all of us great hospitality. The game had great competition with so many pro-level guys on the court that really elevated my game.
“The pace of the game was faster and I really had to control my game and make quick decisions. It was a lot less dribbling and more handoffs and shots. The amount of talent, length and athleticism was crazy good.”
While in Chicago, McNeil also got to showcase his skills during a series of individual workouts and drills.
Joe Doerrer, co-founder of Strictly BBall, tweeted that McNeil Jr. was among the standouts of the weekend, saying his “difficult shot making was insane.”
McNeil Jr. shared that after the event, Brickley texted him and “told me I was the best player at the event. He knows a lot about basketball, it’s in his heart, so that means a lot to me.”
This week, McNeil Jr. received a letter from Adidas Basketball informing him he’d been selected for the Adidas Eurocamp, a multi-day showcase held at the La Ghirada Sports Complex in Treviso, Italy.
Returning for the first time since 2017, the 16th edition of the Adidas Eurocamp is the only officially sanctioned NBA pre-draft camp outside the United States.
According to its website, McNeil Jr. will be among players 18-22 years old to receive a “unique opportunity to be coached by current NBA coaches and players and show off their impressive skills on a world stage.”
From its previous 15 editions, the Adidas Eurocamp has featured “more than 150 former and current NBA and EuroLeague players.”
“I’ve been on the Adidas circuit playing travel ball most of my life, so this is something I’m really excited about,” McNeil Jr. shared. “I’m looking forward to getting to travel to Italy and continue to get better with some of the best players in the world.
“This trip is a big opening for me,” he closed. “It felt amazing when I got the letter. I never expected to be able to go and play in Italy at such a young age.
“This is a dream come true and I always keep in mind to play for all the kids who support me and have the same dreams as I do.”