Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nittany Lion Basketball Team Adds Oliver In Early Signing Period

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., NOV. 15, 2007 – Penn State coach Ed DeChellis announced the first member of the Nittany Lions’ 2008 recruiting class as New Jersey forward Billy Oliver (Chatham, N.J.) signed a National Letter of Intent Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. Oliver made the announcement and signed the letter in a press conference at Chatham High School.

“I just felt like Penn State was the place for me,” Oliver said following the press conference. “It was just a perfect fit academically and athletically for me. The overall atmosphere there is great. There are so many Penn State people around here and everything I’ve ever heard is 100 percent positive about Penn State. You just can’t go wrong going there.”

The 6-8, 210-pound Oliver brings good perimeter shooting and ball-handling skills, three-point range and shot blocking ability to the Nittany Lions. A quick leaper who plays with a high energy level, Oliver is expected to be able to play either the small or power forward position for the Nittany Lions.

“We are very excited to have Billy join our program. He is a versatile player and a good athlete with a lot of bounce off the floor who can play the post or the perimeter,” DeChellis said. “He is a great passer, can shoot the outside jump shot and can take you off the dribble. He is very active on the floor.

“Billy’s a very competitive kid. All summer, every time we saw him he had bruises all over his knees and elbows from diving on the floor after loose balls. He’s also the kind of kid that rises to the occasion and plays big in big games.”

He averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks per game as a junior at Chatham High School helping lead the team to a 31-2 record and New Jersey state Group 2 championship. Oliver, who shot 39 percent from behind the three-point line, was named Morris County Player-of-the-Year as his team won Iron Hills Conference and Morris County titles. He posted 25 points, seven boards and 10 blocks in the MCT title game.

“He had some monster games for us down the stretch in the county tournament and state tournament,” Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. “He is the nicest kid in the world off the floor, but when he steps on it he is a real competitor and gets after it.”

A third team all-state selection by the Associated Press and New Jersey Hoops, which also ranked him among the top 20 seniors in the state, Oliver was named the MVP of the county tournament and was also the Player-of-the-Year in the conference. He is in his third year as a captain for the Cougars.

“He is real long, has long arms and is real athletic and plays other sports,” Ervin said. “He is just touching the tip of the iceberg in his development.

“He just started to play on the outside for us last year and played all summer on the outside in AAU ball, so he’s getting a lot more comfortable out there. He’s always been a very good post player for us. He has a good left hand and shoots the three real well. One of his strengths is certainly his ability to press and run the floor and play that style.”

The right-handed Oliver played in a fast-paced, pressing system under Ervin at Chatham last season, which helped the team win 30 straight games and earn an invitation to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. The Cougars led Seton Hall Prep until the fourth quarter in the first round of the T of C before falling as Oliver posted 15 points, eight boards and four blocks in the game. The Cougars return three seniors this year including Oliver, and Ervin plans to continue to play a fast paced pressing style. Oliver carries over a 3.0 grade-point-average and was voted Homecoming King. He plans on majoring in business or music – he plays the piano – at Penn State.

Penn State has two more scholarships available in the class of 2008.

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