MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – “Being from West Virginia, you’ve got to go prove a point on the national level,” Kevin Schneider said. “They accepted that challenge and made the most of that opportunity every time out and proved what type of talent they were. So to see them develop and get the recognition is well deserved through their hard work and perseverance.”
Schneider, vice president of Big Shots AAU Basketball in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was highlighting high school players who have excelled in his program Wednesday afternoon just before he packs up and heads to Morgantown for the Country Roads Tip-Off a time University High. Players like 2017 Bill Evans Award winner Jarrod West – a 5-foot-11 guard who’s currently playing for Marshall and led Notre Dame to the Class A state title that year. And kids like Kaden Metheny and K.J. McClurg, who did the same thing for University in March and are looking to repeat this season.
On Friday night, top high school boys’ basketball teams from around West Virginia and the east coast will converge on UHS for the Big Shots Country Roads Tip-Off. The event is presented by 84 Lumber and sponsored by Buffalo Wild Wings, and brings teams from North Carolina, Virginia and around the Mountain State for a two-day showcase.
Two Class AAA-A showdowns kick off the event, starting with No. 5 Morgantown taking on No.4 Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m., followed by No. 1 University hosting No. 2 Greater Beckley Christian at 8 p.m. Kicking off the second day is Greater Beckley Christian and Life Christian Academy (Va.) at 2:30 p.m., and is followed by Morgantown-Spring Valley, Beckley Prep IJN-Moravian Prep (N.C.) and University-Poca.
Life Christian Academy (4-2) is from Chester, Va., and the 2019 VISAA D3 state champion, while Beckley Prep is a national high school team based in state and Moravian Prep (9-0) is from Hudson, N.C., and enters the event undefeated. Morgantown (1-0), Poca (1-0) and Greater Beckley Christian (1-0) all won their respective season-openers, while Spring Valley (0-1) dropped its debut to Blazer (Ky.), 76-58. University has not played yet, as its season-debut against Buckhannon-Upshur scheduled for Tuesday was postponed to February.
“The state has meant a lot to us as a family, so we’re always trying to give back a platform to get exposure to the next guys coming up,” Schneider said. “We focus on helping players as much as anyone nationally, helping them achieve their dreams of playing college basketball.”
Division I-scouted players will be highlighted during the event, including McClurg and Metheny. Metheny has already signed with Bowling Green, while McClurg, who had committed to Niagara ahead of his senior season, has reopened his recruitment. Although there’s been no formal statement given, McClurg’s decision came on the heels of Niagara coach Patrick Beilein abruptly resigning two weeks before the Purple Eagles’ season-opener against Drexel. Beilein is the son of former West Virginia men’s basketball head coach and current Cleveland Cavaliers frontman John Beilein. Beilein coached the Mountaineers from 2002-2007, taking over the program from longtime coach Gale Catlett.
“We have an outstanding relationship with [McClurg’s and Metheny’s] families, and they’re two of the finest players that have come through Big Shots,” Schneider said. “They played for Big Shots Elite and won that state championship last year. We’ve known those two since they were 10 years old, and it’s been fun to see that the nucleus of K.J., Kaden and Michael Maumbe, grow up together.
“Kaden found a great fit with [Bowling Green coach] Michael Huger, who my dad actually recruited there. I think he found a great home. And K.J., after reopening his recruitment, has received interest with JMU and UMBC. They’re really interested in him.”
The talented group of schools has garnered plenty of attention from Division I programs that will be in attendance, including UMBC, JMU, VMI, Marshall and possibly WVU. Division II and III programs will also send scouts.
Other attending players worth noting are Poca guards Issac McKneely – a sophomore already offered by Marshall – and Noah Rittinger; Notre Dame sophomore Jaidyn West; Spring Valley seniors CJ Meredith and Sam Atkins; and players from Beckley Prep IJN who have Division I offers, according to Schneider.
“We love hosting events in West Virginia to bring national attention to the recruitment there. [The tip-off] is the first annual event we’re doing [in West Virginia],” Schneider said.
The event is open to the public, with tickets priced at $10 or $8 for students with a valid ID.
Big shots? Yes, really
Big Shots has produced a laundry list of collegiate and professional players, including current NBA Stars Khris Middleton, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, Jabari Parker, Karl Anthony Towns, Kemba Walker and Brandon Ingram, to name a few.
The successful AAU program is headquartered in Myrtle Beach, but its roots are purely West Virginian. Schneider’s father, Jeff Schneider, the CEO and President of Big Shots, grew up in the Clarksburg area and played for Washington Irving – now a middle school since the opening of Robert C. Byrd – where he won two state titles. From there, he went on to have a successful college career with Virginia Tech where he averaged 10.2 points and 2.4 assists. He was then drafted by the Houston Rockets before leaving the league to begin his coaching career.
“My father Jeff and I started Big Shots in 2006,” Schneider said. “We have a recruiting service for college coaches and we’ve also formed tournaments. We had 19 teams at our first event [in 2006], and now we have over 2,500 teams that play annually in Big Shots tournaments. We’ve been fortunate over the last 14 years to have over 13,000 players receive scholarships. We take pride that alumni are playing in college, internationally, [in the NBA] and are successful outside of basketball.”
His first 12 years as a coach were spent in assistant roles at VCU, VMI, BGSU, Tulsa and Washington State. He then got his first head coaching job in 1995 at Cal Poly where he spent six seasons. His college coaching career that took him East to West has greatly impacted how successful Big Shots has become, as Schneider has built a massive network within the basketball world.