THE PRIDE OF CHESTER
article written by Chris Giannotti
15 miles south of Philadelphia, lies a city also steeped in hardwood tradition; Chester, Pennsylvania. While the city has fallen on hard economic times over the past half century, basketball and the talent produced here, remains a major source of inspiration for this proud community. This article will examine the three active NBA players that spent their high school years playing in this basketball frenzied city. They are the pride of Chester.
Jameer Nelson is a 6’0 point guard currently in his 12th NBA season. He was drafted with the 20th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. Nelson played his high school ball at Chester High School, leading the Clippers to the 2000 PIAA AAAA State Championship. Nelson played his college basketball for coach Phil Martelli at St. Joseph’s University. His storied career is littered with accolades. He was named National Freshman of the year for the 2000-2001 season. During his senior season in 2003-2004, Nelson led the Hawks to an undefeated 27 and 0 regular season record. Even though the Hawks eventually lost to Oklahoma State in the waning seconds of the Elite Eight, it did nothing to diminish Nelson’s accomplishments. He was named the 2004 Wooden, Naismith and Cousy Award winners, as well as leaving St. Joseph’s as its All-Time leading scorer.
Nelson is currently in his 12th season in the NBA. At the prime of his career, he teamed with Dwight Howard in Orlando, to form one of the league’s best little man/big man tandems. Nelson has also played for the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics. He currently is playing for the Denver Nuggets in a backup point guard role. Nelson has career averages of 12 points per game and 5 assists per game.
However, Nelson’s most impressive feat is his dedication of giving back to the people of Chester. For the past 11 years there is a High School showcase basketball tournament held at Widener University, in honor of Nelson’s late father. The Jameer and Pete Nelson Classic is held every December and features some of the best high school teams on the East Coast. It is a must see event for the high school basketball junkies.
FROM CHESTER TO MEMPHIS
Tyreke Evans has been in the public’s eye for over a decade. As a teenager, he was featured in the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch’s documentary “Gunnin for that Number 1 Spot”. The documentary followed Evans and several other high school basketball phenoms as they prepared for the first ever Boost Mobile Basketball showcase at Rucker Park in Harlem. Although Evans was from Chester, PA, he played his high school basketball at American Christian Academy in nearby Aston, PA. The 6’6 Evans had an award filled high school basketball career. In addition to being named a 1st team Parade All-American, he was the winner of the 2008 McDonald’s All-American Game and also the co-winner of the Jordan Brand Classic Game.
Evans was Rivals.Com 6th overall recruit for the 2008 season. He chose to play for coach John Calipari at Memphis University. Evans played there for one year and was then chosen as the 4th overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2009 NBA Draft. For his stellar play, Evans was awarded the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He is currently in his 3rd year with the New Orleans Pelicans after being traded there by Sacramento in 2013. Evans has career averages of 16.7 points per game, 5.3 assists per game and 4.9 rebounds per game. I truly believe that Evans still has not hit his ceiling as a professional. He is a dynamic offensive force, who other than Anthony Davis, has never been surrounded with consistent elite level players.
FROM CHESTER TO ARIZONA
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the third and most recent player examined in this article from Chester that currently plays in the NBA. Over his last three high school seasons, the 6’7 Hollis-Jefferson led Chester High to a 91 and 5 record while also winning two state championships. He was named to the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic. Hollis-Jefferson chose to play his college basketball at the University of Arizona under coach Sean Miller.
Hollis-Jefferson played at Arizona for two seasons, leading the Wildcats to back to back Elite Eight appearances. Ironically, both times the Wildcats lost to the Wisconsin Badgers coached by fellow Chester native, Bo Ryan. As a result of his lock-down defense and improving perimeter skills, Hollis-Jefferson declared for the 2015 NBA Draft. He was originally selected by the Portland TrailBlazers with the 23rd pick in the 1st Round before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Even though he is currently out with an injury, Hollis-Jefferson appears to be an important piece of Brooklyn’s team rebuilding project and has a very promising NBA future.
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article was previously written on 1-28-16
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