Mount St. Joseph's Jordan McNeil shoots and draws a foul… (Brian Krista / Patuxent…)
Jordan McNeil didn’t pay too much attention to the Towson basketball program growing up, but when coach Pat Skerry came calling this summer, the Mount St. Joseph senior suddenly became “pretty interested” in the Tigers.
“It’s local and their basketball team was on the rise,” said McNeil, who played AAU ball with Under Armour B’more’s Finest. “I really liked it. I didn’t have any reason to wait, so I made the decision.”
McNeil, who committed to Towson on Monday afternoon, chose the Tigers over offers from College of Charleston, Toledo and UMBC. The West Baltimore native, who visited every school on his list but Toledo, wasn’t initially sure if he wanted to stay close to home for college.
“At first it was tough, like ‘Should I go away or should I stay?’” McNeil said. “But I realized my fan base is here. I want them to come out and support me whenever they can.”
McNeil was Mount St. Joseph’s third-leading scorer as a junior, coming off the bench to average more than 10 points for the Baltimore Catholic League tournament champions. The 6-foot-5, 183-pound shooting guard impressed Gaels coach Pat Clatchey by biding his time as the team’s sixth man.
“He was in a situation where we had [Ohio State freshman guard] Kam [Williams], we had [Villanova point guard commitment and MSJ senior] Phil [Booth], had other good players like [American walk-on freshman guard] Charlie Jones and [senior guard and DI prospect] Jaylen Adams,” Clatchey said. “But Jordan has contributed a lot to us winning championships the past couple years.
“In this day and age, a lot of kids in Jordan’s situation would have transferred. He didn’t. He stuck it out, and it shows you about his character. I think in the long run, he’ll benefit from it. We’re expecting him to have a really good senior season this year.”
Skerry told McNeil that he’ll be expected to play the 2 and the 3 his first two years of college, but the coaches hope he can also develop into a capable option at the 1. Clatchey thinks versatility is a hallmark of McNeil’s game.
“He’s long [and] he’s a very good shooter with range,” the coach said. “I’ve spent the past two or three years really talking to Jordan about the value and importance of becoming a complete player. I think this summer it finally clicked where he started showing those things. He gets to the rim and scores, can shoot the mid-range shot. He’s also really showing some grit and toughness on the defensive end of the floor and on the defensive glass. I think college coaches noticed that change in his approach.”
McNeil, who plans to major in sports management, said he’s excited about being part of a 2014 Tigers recruiting class that also includes Milford Mill wing Allen Costley and two Washington-area products in Clinton Christian point guard Byron Hawkins and St. John’s (D.C.) wing Mike Morsell.
“I think Coach Skerry is a really good recruiter,” McNeil said. “I consider myself a pretty good basketball player. I feel kind of lucky that somebody who can recruit all over the country like that found me. I’m very thankful for that.”