Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
A good weekend for Saint Joseph’s future got even better, with one commitment becoming two.
Following on the footsteps of Neumann-Goretti point guard Lamarr Kimble, Saint Joseph’s Prep shooting guard Chris Clover became the second Philadelphia player this weekend to choose stay local and play for Phil Martelli, picking the Hawks over offers from Temple, Drexel and others on Sunday afternoon.
“I think it’s a good fit for him,” said Kamal Yard, the director of Philly Pride, Clover’s AAU program for the last few years. “I think Saint Joseph’s has recruited him pretty hard as well as all of the other Big 5 schools. I think he just felt a connection to St. Joe’s more than the other schools.”
Saint Joseph’s had been heavily recruiting Clover for a while, and after it became clear this summer that Clover’s recruitment wasn’t going to skyrocket into the high-major territory, his commitment to the Hawks seemed all but inevitable.
The connection with Martelli, staying within the Saint Joseph’s family and the campus’ distance from his Cobbs Creek home all played a role in keeping Clover local.
“The main thing [Martelli] talked about was family. I’m a very family-type guy, so that’s what I like about him,” he said. “I always thought I would stay local because I want my family to be able to come to games and stuff like that, and get support from my family.”
Still, that doesn’t diminish what he brings to the table as a Hawk.
A 6-foot-4, 200-lb. shooting guard, Clover is a talented scorer from all three levels, and he’s tough enough to score through plenty of contact. That comes from an interesting few years of position-switching at the varsity level.
His freshman and sophomore year playing under Speedy Morris at Prep, Clover played more of a power forward, where he learned to score around the rim against bigger defenders. But as he showed as a junior, he’s more than capable of playing around the perimeter, with a much-improved handle and shooting ability; plus, he’s a very good rebounder and doesn’t mind taking contact.
“I told his father three summers ago, he was playing outside, and I said ‘he’s not a ’4′, he’s a two-guard,” Yard said. “We started playing him on the perimeter and he got more comfortable and more comfortable there, and then Speedy’s development is second-to-none. His confidence just mushroomed, it mushroomed last year and it mushroomed again this year.”
This past season, Clover averaged 21.9 ppg–more than twice as much as any other player on his squad–to lead the team to a 16-7 record. He scored at least 18 points in all but one Catholic League game, when he had 12 against Archbishop Carroll.
With Kimble committing on Friday, Clover knew it was time to say he’d be joining his fellow Catholic League guard at Hawk Hill next fall, giving SJU the backcourt of the future the Hawks staff was hoping for.
“I know that [Kimble] was their number one guy and I was also their number one guy, we were both pushing each other to go to Saint Joe’s,” Clover said. “We should do a lot of big things, come back with maybe some [Atlantic 10] championships. We’re both going to work hard, we’re very, very competitive. We want to win.”
The news was first reported by Matt Gifford of HawkHillHardwood.com. Clover’s commitment leaves Martelli and his staff with one open scholarship remaining in the class of 2015.