Friday, 01 October 2021 16:07

UNC the latest to visit McNeil during early recruiting rush

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Sophomore Paul McNeil dribbles around a defender while UNC assistant coach Brad Frederick (second from right) watches during a workout on Thursday. Sophomore Paul McNeil dribbles around a defender while UNC assistant coach Brad Frederick (second from right) watches during a workout on Thursday. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — College coaches and recruiting coordinators from all over the country have been flocking to Richmond County to see Paul McNeil work his magic in person.

McNeil, a sophomore shooting guard for Richmond Senior High School, is currently ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the nation for the class of 2024 according to ESPN’s recruiting database. 

A 4-star recruit, McNeil has been visited by some big-name college programs the last few weeks. The University of North Carolina sent assistant coach Brad Frederick, whose duties include scouting and recruiting, to watch McNeil during an hour-long workout on Thursday.

The day before, Georgetown University sent assistant coach Robert Kirby, and on Tuesday, both the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University were in attendance. Representing the Cavaliers was associate head coach Jason Williford and assistant coach Jason Shay scouted for the Demon Deacons.

Despite all of the extra attention, McNeil, who stands at 6-6, 180 pounds, is still focused on one thing —  to be the best basketball player and teammate he can be.

“It means a lot to me that there are so many colleges looking at me,” McNeil said after his workout for North Carolina. “It’s showing that my hard work is paying off. To be only a sophomore and have all of this attention, it’s really special.

“Whenever there are college coaches here, I try not to think about it. I just go out and play my game,” he added. “I hope they see my talent and skills, and also my teamwork with the other guys.”

UNC assistant coach Brad Frederick (left) talks to Richmond head coach Donald Pettigrew during Thursday’s workout. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Earlier in September, programs like Indiana University and North Carolina State University also ventured out to Richmond to see McNeil in action.

At the time of publication, McNeil has received six total offers, five of which are at the Division I level. His first one came from the University of Tennessee (SEC) on July 8, which was followed by Western Carolina University (Southern Conference) a day later.

Indiana (Big 10) offered on Sept. 11, Clemson University (ACC) extended an offer on Sept. 20 and Shaw University (CIAA, DII) offered on Sept. 23. McNeil’s most recent offer came from N.C. State (ACC) on Sept. 25.

Richmond head coach Donald Pettigrew said this has been an exciting start to McNeil’s recruitment process, which he expects to have an even larger impact on the entire Raider basketball program.

“Paul is putting the program back on the map and we haven’t had this kind of attention since Jonathan Neely in 1996 and 1997,” Pettigrew said of the former Raider and UNC-Charlotte player. “This is big time and our kids are seeing that.

“With the coaches coming to see Paul, it gives our other guys a chance to get looked at,” he added. “Coaches have really good networking, so even if our guys don’t fit their program, they have buddies who may need them. This process will help the program as a whole and elevate our game.”

Before school on Thursday, McNeil was in Richmond’s gym putting up shots. His work ethic continues to catch the eye of several people, including head volleyball coach Ashleigh Larsen. 

“You work for what you want! No wonder the coaches are flooding to see him,” Larsen tweeted after seeing him in the gym before the first bell.

“This is something that he’s always wanted, and I tell him all the time he’s doing a great job continuing to get better. He’s never satisfied,” Pettigrew said. “Paul doesn’t let the extra attention affect him and he still plays his game when the coaches are here.”

Still a couple of months away from the start of his sophomore season with the Raiders, McNeil’s recruitment process is expected to heat up as the Raiders contend for their first conference championship since the 2016-17 season.

“I want to continue working on all of my skill sets, especially my defense,” McNeil closed. “And I want to keep doing well in the classroom.”

Last modified on Monday, 04 October 2021 14:39
Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni.

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Twitter: @ROSports_