By JOSH VERLIN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
PHILADELPHIA — A pair of ACC-bound prospects had big performances in the first night of the FamJuice Kobe Bryant Classic, held at Bryant Gymnasium in Lower Merion.
Miles Overton, going to Wake Forest next year, had 30 points for St. Joseph’s Prep in the Hawks’ 91-68 victory over Plymouth-Whitemarsh Thursday; that performance was followed up by Syracuse-bound B.J. Johnson going for 25 in Lower Merion’s 73-62 win over St. Frances (Md.).
Overton, the son of former NBA, is a 6-3 guard with a good shot and an ability to get into the lane; one impressive dunk in the first half drew one of the largest cheers of the night. Part of a deadly one-two combination on the Hawks that includes Notre Dame-bound wing Steve Vasturia, he picked Wake Forest over offers from St. Joseph’s and Temple, among others.
“When I visited down there, I just fell in love with the school,” he said. “My relationship with the coaching staff is great, and I can’t wait to play in the ACC, play against Steve at Notre Dame, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference has certainly gotten stronger in the recent rounds of conference shuffling, adding Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame from the Big East while losing only Maryland to the Big Ten; while none of these moves have actually happened yet, Overton admitted it “definitely” played a part in his decision to attend Wake Forest.
“I heard the Syracuse stuff, going to the ACC with Notre Dame and Pitt, and that just made me want to go there even more to play the best competition,” he said. “I want to play Syracuse real bad.”
When he takes the court in the Bryant Classic Final on Saturday night, Overton will be going head-to-head with a player he could find himself guarding at the next level when he gets his wish.
Johnson, who committed to Syracuse shortly after receiving an offer from them back in October, is one of five prospects headed to the Orange next fall along with a pair of Rivals.com top-40 national recruits in four-star point guard Tyler Ennis (St. Benedict’s) and four-star forward Tyler Roberson (Roselle Catholic), as well as shooting guard Ron Patterson and power forward Chinoso Obokoh.
“I saw Tyler Ennis play two weekends ago at Philly U and then last summer I played against Tyler Roberson,” Johnson told SNY.tv. “They don’t have too many weaknesses. I just look at it like I get to play with them next year.”
Unlike Overton, the unending string of conference changes that’s been going on for nearly the last two years didn’t play too much of a part in Johnson’s decision.
“The Big East and the ACC are pretty much the same to me,” he said. “(Syracuse has) just been one of my favorite schools for a while. When they offered, it was pretty done a done deal. When I went up there, everybody showed me a lot of love.”