Photo courtesy of Philly.com
By David Cordova
It was a mid-June night in North Philadelphia and many people came out to witness the national past-time of the ‘hood, summer league basketball. And this league was none other than the Chosen League, a Nike-sponsored tournament celebrating its 16th year of existence with an annual event named the Chosen Game, which is a showcase between graduating seniors that are going off to college and underclassmen transitioning into the next grade.
In the game, there were plenty of Division-I level talents on the floor, but there was one player who stood out over many, literally. Naheem McLeod towered over the opposition and dominated against the opposing players that were a foot shorter than him and blocked shots and threw down vicious dunks. He also displayed a good hook shot to go along with his versatility.
“I work at it all day, I just do what’s best for me.” says McLeod about why he loves the game.
The 7-foot center is entering his junior year at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, which is a town that is at least 30 minutes away from Philadelphia.
When asked about his high school program, he replied, “We’re a good team coming up. We got a couple of pieces, we should win the state this year, hands down.”
McLeod was one of the key pieces that led the Colonials to a 25-6 record, a Suburban One League American Conference, a District 1 Class 6A semifinals appearance and a PIAA Class 6A semifinals appearance.
But McLeod is somewhat of a mystery, because of the fact that he doesn’t play on a major AAU circuit, but rather with Team PYO, who plays in non-sponsored sneaker events such as Hoop Group and Elevate Hoops. When asked if he considers himself to be a hidden gem, he replied, “Not really, because all of the coaches still find me, but after next year, we’ll see what happens.”
When asked about his summer, in which he spent showcasing his talent, “This summer, I did alright, I got a couple offers.”
This summer, he gained an offer from LaSalle University, an A-10 school, which is located down the block from where the courts from the Cherashore Playground, the home of the Chosen League. He has also received interest from other Philadelphia-area schools, such as Temple (American Athletic Conference) and Villanova (Big East Conference).
But now, McLeod has two years left of high school ball to play. His mission is to now garner more interest and gain more strength (despite his large frame, he only weighs 200 pounds). But if he was a secret before, then his junior year will be a revelation, “It’s a breakout year, everybody should know my name. My junior year is going to be a surprise, everybody says I’m a prospect. I’m gonna show them what I’m made of.”
In due time, McLeod will be a Division-I prospect and if he keeps developing, there’s no telling where his talent may lead him.
Highlights of Naheem McLeod:
Courtesy of Raw Sports.
Courtesy of Raw Sports.
Courtesy of GMC Hoops.
Courtesy of 8Eye Media.