While it wasn't a total slam dunk, Penn State's recruitment of Armani Reeves was something of which Reeves' first cousin and retired NBA superstar Charles Barkley would have been proud.
It was a high percentage shot.
Penn State was one of the first schools pursuing the blue-chip cornerback from Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, Mass., and got him to Beaver Stadium quickly for a game. The Nittany Lions received an early commitment from his best friend and teammate, safety/linebacker Camren Williams. There also was early playing time to offer in the Lion secondary, where four of the seven returning lettermen on scholarship are entering their final year of eligibility. The Lion coaches even sweetened the pot by telling Reeves he could play on offense, too.
And, for good measure, they got him and his mother on to campus for a visit, along with Williams, last weekend.
So, it came as very little surprise on Friday morning when the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Reeves announced his verbal commitment to Penn State at his high school.
Notre Dame and Michigan were Reeves' other finalists. Boston College and Stanford were next in line from a list Memorial Catholic coach Alex Campea said included 22-to-24 scholarship offers.
"I felt it fit me the best out of any school,'' Reeves, who intends to major in computer science, said. "It just felt like the place to be. Penn State just felt like home."
Reeves is a consensus top-200 prospect ranked highest by 247sports.com, which has him as the fifth-best cornerback and 59th-best overall prospect in the country. Last season, Reeves had 37 tackles and four interceptions for the Knights on his way to making first-team all-state. He also returned two punts for scores.
With 4.41-second speed in the 40-yard dash and a time of 4.12 seconds in the short shuttle run, Reeves was also a force on offense and accumulated 1,701 total yards.
"How do I use him? Every conceivable way I can. The reality is he is one of those players who is a gamebreaker,'' said Campea, who even has employed Reeves as the quarterback in the wildcat formation. "I told him when the game starts, he'll be on the field, and when the [final] gun goes off, he'll be on the field. The only break he gets is during timeouts.''
"He's a gifted athlete who has lots of tools.''
Reports are that Reeves has been told he will get a chance at some offensive snaps early on for the Nittany Lions. However, most scouting services project him as a defensive back long-term.
"We play man. We play zone. If we get to a point where there's a wide receiver we feel needs to be shut down, we'll [have Reeves] latch onto him. We feel pretty good we're going to win that matchup most of the time,'' Campea said. "He's tough as nails. You see all the straight-line speed, but he's got great leaping ability and great lateral movement. He's got great anticipation, and he's got ball skills.''
Maybe that's in the blood. Barkley dominated much taller players in the NBA and SEC because of the surprising quickness he possessed at around 6-6 and more than 250 pounds.
"When he used to play the Celtics, he always used to come visit my aunt [Vanessa], because they were really good friends," Reeves, who moved to Massachusetts from Alabama when he was young, said in an interview with ESPN.com. "He used to always come and visit and we actually took pictures with him and stuff like that. So it was pretty cool. I don't look at him as, 'Oh, he's Charles Barkley. I just look at him as Charles.'"
Williams, meanwhile, is almost like a brother to Reeves. Although he vowed not to push his friend too hard to Penn State, he was definitely excited to learn they'd both be Nittany Lions.
"It feels great to know that not only will my best friend be going to the same college as me but I'm also happy that he found a school that fits him perfectly both academically and athletically. It's perfect,'' Williams said. "I'll be at PSU, a place that I love, and my best friend will be with me in a place that he also loves. It's awesome.''
Reeves already has made connections with several other Lions, future Lions and potential Lion recruits.
"All those guys, I have a really great relationship with them," Reeves said. "And they expressed how much they really want me.''
Reeves is the fourth Catholic Memorial senior to commit to a Division I college. Campea knew a few years ago he might have something special on his hands with Reeves and Williams.
"I certainly thought they had the potential,'' Campea said. "The question as freshman and sophomores was would they work enough to get good enough, and the answer is a resounding yes.''