New Jersey high school basketball star Trey Patterson and his parents got ahead of the recruiting process in the fall of his junior season last year, never realizing that a pandemic would turn the usual routine upside down.

“We got out ahead of everything,” Patterson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Rutgers Prep, said Wednesday after signing a national letter of intent to attend Villanova. “I got the chance to see a lot of different campuses and different atmospheres and things like that. So COVID didn’t really affect me that much.”

Patterson said he went on five official visits, but it was an unofficial visit to Villanova, where he went on a tour of the campus and watched a practice, that eventually put the Wildcats at the top of his list. He committed in June.

Patterson, of Somerset, N.J., who is ranked 27th in the ESPN Top 100, was one of four players from the incoming freshman class of 2021 to sign Wednesday. He joined 6-5 shooting guard Jordan Longino of Germantown Academy, 6-9 center Nnanna Njoku of Sanford (Del.) School and 6-3 point guard Angelo Brizzi of Highland (Va.) High School.

The class was ranked No. 4 in the latest team standings by 247Sports.

“Trey brings great intelligence and basketball skill to our program,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a release announcing the signings. “His parents were both quality Division I college players and have served as great mentors to him. Trey combines an outstanding work ethic with a varied skill set that helps set him apart.”

Longino, of Doylestown, earned PIAA Class 4A player of the year honors last season when he averaged 22.8 points and 5.8 rebounds for Germantown Academy, the alma mater of former star Wildcats guard Alvin Williams. The No. 40-ranked player by Rivals, he also played football for the Patriots.

“Jordan is a highly skilled, versatile player from a wonderful family,” Wright said. “His experience as a football quarterback points to his exceptional intelligence. Jordan is an excellent shooter and we believe his multifaceted game fits well here at Villanova.”

Njoku, of Newark, Del., was the first player in the class to commit to the Wildcats. He averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game last season and is ranked No. 76 by Rivals.

“Nnanna is a very intelligent young man who has continued to get better over the course of his high school career,” Wright said. “He plays extremely hard and brings a physical mentality. Nnanna has a great touch around the rim and is an underrated passer.”

Brizzi, of Warrenton, Va., averaged 20.3 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.2 steals per game last season. Wright said he brings “a great feel for the game as the son of a coach.”

“He is an excellent shooter who is capable of playing either guard position,” Wright said. “We believe Angelo has all the ingredients needed to become a complete Villanova guard.”

Miami signs Poplar

Nisine Poplar, a 6-5 guard from Math, Civics & Sciences Charter School, signed a national letter intent to join the Miami Hurricanes next year. Poplar averaged 22 points per game last season and helped the school win the state Class 2A title in 2019.

Nisine Poplar
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
Nisine Poplar