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PHOTOS: McNeil Jr. signs NLI to N.C. State at winter sports pep rally

Paul McNeil Jr. (seated center) is surrounded by his Richmond teammates at his NLI signing day. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — A dream nearly two decades in the making came true for Paul McNeil Jr. on Monday in front of hundreds of people.

Red and black clashed with the backdrop of green and gold in Richmond Senior High School’s gymnasium as McNeil Jr. signed his National Letter of Intent.

Holding a signing day ceremony, the reigning North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association’s All-State Player of the Year finalized his commitment to North Carolina State University.

McNeil Jr.’s celebration was paired with a winter sports pep rally, which saw all of Richmond’s student-athletes for basketball, bowling, indoor track and field, swimming and wrestling recognized.

With the bleachers filled with students, faculty and staff, the cheerleading team pumped fans up for Tuesday’s state championship rematch against Myers Park High School.

Head principal Jim Butler shifted the attention to McNeil Jr. by introducing him, saying that “for the first time in Richmond’s history” a male basketball player was signing to a Power 5 program.

Joining McNeil Jr. at the signing table were his dad Paul and younger brother Malachi. Also there were Richmond head coach Donald Pettigrew, several assistant coaches and McNeil Jr.’s teammates stood nearby waving Wolfpack signs.


Both Pettigrew and McNeil Jr. spoke to those in attendance.

With nearly 20 offers to choose from, 17 of which were Division I offers, McNeil Jr. verbally committed to the Wolfpack and head coach Kevin Keatts earlier this year on Feb. 19.

He committed following a visit to Raleigh, which he got the full Wolfpack experience and sat courtside for N.C. State’s 77-69 win over the University of North Carolina.

His loyalty to the program started with, and has continued because of, N.C. State’s “relationship building” with McNeil Jr.

Following McNeil Jr.’s celebratory signing, a student-faculty basketball game was played, including members of the Raider and Lady Raider squads.

The Raider basketball team opens its season on Tuesday at Myers Park and will start at 7:30 p.m.

Below are photos from Monday’s signing taken by sports editor Kyle Pillar.

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Kyle Pillar is a 22-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on X @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.