Jam Fest Spotlight: Tommy O'Neil Speaks with Hoop Group on Basketball After Pitt Jam Fest
The Middlesex Magic are back in the Final Four of the 17U Elite Division just a year removed from winning the Pitt JamFest last season, and the game plan looks very similar to those of theist years where they’ve seen success. The Magic are one of the most disciplined, well coached and and unselfish teams you’ll come across in AAU basketball, but as many say you still need talent to win games.
One of the most talented players on this year’s team is 6’8” Thomas O’Neil of Vermont Academy. O’Neil had a big day yesterday, especially in their win over fellow HGSL member the NJ Roadrunners where he posted a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Even after an impressive performance where he was the best player on the floor, O’Neil still deferred to the Middlesex way as he was quick to mention his teammates.
“We practice hard, play hard and we try to play for each other,” he said. “We really started clicking this weekend, the first few tournaments we were a little shaky chemistry wise but we’re starting to come together now and stringing together a few wins now.”
With his size, O’Neil has an inside-out ability offensively that makes him a walking mismatch against most teams. He has the classic stretch four man’s touch from the outside, but he’s also big, strong and tough enough to take you inside and bang on the post or finish above the rim. It’s the way he wants to be viewed by coaches and his peers.
“I’d say I’m a stretch four, I definitely prefer to take it to the hoop but I can stretch the floor,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in my toughness, I try to play harder than anyone else out there.”
Despite his stellar play over the last couple of years, O’Neil is still without a division one offer, but that will likely change soon. He has interest from a lot of Patriot and Ivy League schools, many of whom were in attendance for some of his big games this weekend.
“That’s my plan for next year, I want to go to the best basketball and academic school for me,” he said. “Other than that I’m going to look at the culture, the location because I like to be close to home, a nice campus and whether I’ll have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament.”
A hard worker both on the court and in the classroom, O’Neil is going to be a steal at the division one level for whoever takes him, continuing a long trend of under the radar prospects from one of the best programs in New England.