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IV Pettit turns extra year at Phelps into Chestnut Hill commitment

05/16/2023, 12:00pm EDT
By Rich Flanagan

Rich Flanagan (@richflanagan33)

IV Pettit was one of the most talked about players in southeastern Pa. throughout the 2021-22 season and with good reason.

He hit four three-pointers and scored 15 points against Aliquippa in the PIAA Class 3A title game to help Devon Prep secure its first state championship in program history. He was named All-State First Team after averaging 15.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals during a memorable senior season. 

His electric scoring ability helped put the Tide on the map over the course of his two seasons on campus, which followed two years at West Chester Rustin where he first began filling up stat sheets. While he elevated Devon Prep to the apex of Pa. high school sports, his recruitment remained relatively stagnant.

With the constant fluctuation of rosters at all levels of NCAA basketball, some interest was there while he was the catalyst for the Tide but offers were few. Yet, he wasn’t going to allow the slow recruitment to derail his vision for himself and what he wanted to accomplish. Pettit announced his commitment to play at Chestnut Hill last week.

“I know that COVID-19 messed up the recruiting for kids in my class and the class above me, so whatever came my way, I wasn’t shying away from it,” Pettit said. “I was taking the best offer that came to me.”

Phelps guard IV Pettit recently committed to Chestnut Hill. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Pettit was never going to settle but he was going to work for what he had earned, especially as a player who finished on the First Team All-Catholic list as a junior with the likes of Rahsool Diggins (UMass), Hysier Miller (Temple), Daniel Skillings Jr. (Cincinnati), Daeshon Shepherd (La Salle) and Aaron Lemon-Warren (Delaware State). He decided to do a prep year at The Phelps School and play a post grad season for a program with a track record of sending players to the collegiate ranks such as Mike Watkins (Penn State) and Chas Kelley (Boston College) in recent years.

During his lone season at Phelps, a program that had recruited him at Devon Prep came back into the fold. Chestnut Hill College assistant coach Chris Evans had a previous relationship with Pettit having played against each other in summer leagues growing up. Evans played 67 career games for the Griffins and led the team in scoring (12.8 ppg) and three-pointers (38) during his junior season in 2016-17. He closed out his playing career fifth all-time in three-point percentage at 36.8% then almost immediately joined the program as an assistant coach on Jesse Balcer’s staff prior to the 2019-20 season.

That familiarity between the two certainly helped them connect and Evans continued to see what Pettit had to offer playing alongside a loaded roster that featured Malcolm Wrisby-Jefferson (Brown University), Saleem Payne (West Chester University), 6-foot-9 big man Onyx Nnani and fellow 6-9 forward Will Riley, who already boasts offers from Oregon, Washington, Seton Hall, NJIT, Kansas State and Illinois. He stood out in that crowd in the same way he flourished in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

“I was in contact with [Chestnut Hill] while at Devon Prep my senior year, but that died down during the summer,” Pettit said. “In October at The Phelps School, we rekindled that communication, and I started going to a couple of their workouts. The rest is history from there.”

Pettit was formally offered after the season and the 6-2 guard committed to head coach J.J. Butler’s program on May 9. He also received interest from East Stroudsburg and California University of Pennsylvania, but neither was as heavily involved as the Griffins staff. He played with and against some of the very best that the state had to offer and he is ecstatic to begin the next phase of his playing career.

“They liked the way I played, particularly my shooting,” Pettit said. “They thought I shot a high percentage, took the right shots and made the right decisions. They loved my scoring ability.”

Pettit was sensational from all over the court this season shooting 51% from the field, 42% from behind the three-point line and 90% from the foul line. Even on a loaded roster, he was effective by averaging 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game in helping Phelps reach the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PAISAA) Tournament semifinals, where it fell to George School. His skillset translated perfectly to what Phelps wanted to do with the personnel it had in the same way he gelled at Devon Prep under head coach Jason Fisher.

In a Devon Prep lineup with Allen Cieslak (Susquehanna University), Jacen Holloway (Army West Point) and Lucas Orchard, who will do a prep year at Perkiomen School then begin his collegiate career at Monmouth University, he was the unquestioned leader, and the player Fisher would go to late in games. His former coach is thrilled Pettit found his spot.

“He was one of the key components of the state championship,” Fisher said. “He’ll be an elite scorer at the next level for sure, but it was his willingness to do other things that people didn’t really notice. They would always look at his points, but he would defend, rebound the ball and initiate the offense at times. These were things people didn’t think he could do and they all added up to a state championship.”

Fisher noted that “he did those things at Phelps and I’m sure he will do those things at Chestnut Hill,” but he was a scorer from the moment he stepped on the floor in high school. He scored over 900 points in two seasons at Rustin. He poured in 23 points as a sophomore alongside Griffin Barrouk (Hofstra) to beat District 2 champion Wallenpaupack in the 2020 PIAA 5A Tournament. 

He brought that same scoring mentality to Devon Prep and led the Tide to its first trip to the Philadelphia Catholic League semifinals in his first season with the team. Also add in the fact that he played on a WeR1 team with Elmarko Jackson (Kansas), Thomas Haugh (Florida), Bobby Rosenberger (St. Francis, Pa.), Matt Mayock (American University), and Augie Gerhart (University of Pennsylvania), and Pettit has been able to stand out in a crowd.

He changed the course of the Devon Prep program almost overnight and coming into the Catholic League forced him to adjust his play to a higher level of basketball, one he was ready to excel in.

“I worked on my mindset as I was trying to be more of a leader,” Pettit said. “Going to a different team, I had to bring that winning attitude and help others. I wanted to live up to that expectation of winning, which was the biggest thing I had to work on and adjust to.”

As he became more confident in his ability to lead, his shooting never wavered. He made 85 three-pointers over his two seasons with the Tide then sank 77 makes from the perimeter in his lone season at Phelps. Even more impressively, he made a three in 23 out of 24 games this past season. The smooth stroke from deep combined with the quick release and versatility to make shots off the dribble enticed the Chestnut Hill College staff and basically locked up the offer.

“My jump shot really opened it up for me,” Pettit said. “My range from deep forced players to guard me far away from the three-point line, so it helped open other aspects of scoring like going to the basket, stopping for mid-range shots, or even getting fouled from three.”

As the games got bigger, so did his performance such as his 20-point game against Zion Stanford (Temple), Adam “Budd” Clark (Merrimack) and West Catholic in the state quarterfinals at Cardinal O’Hara, avenging two losses including one in the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs. Then, he poured in 16 points in a ferocious overtime comeback over Holy Redeemer in the semifinals. His scoring mentality never dissipated but with it came increased rebounding numbers on a smaller Devon Prep and more possessions where he was facilitating the offense. Fisher helped Pettit gain the confidence to find success in other areas as scoring would only take him so far.

“I hope he would say that we opened his eyes to the other things that he could do really well like rebounding,” Fisher said. “He always had it in him, but we held him accountable for those things. He had a killer instinct about him that allowed us to win games his senior year. He did things out there that I don’t know if we’ve ever seen on the Devon Prep floor before.”

Pettit joins an incoming recruiting class at Chestnut Hill that includes 6-8 Collegium Charter forward Travon Mack and Sankofa Freedom guard Zaki Alston. They will join a roster that finished 16-14 overall (9-8 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) and second in the South Division behind Jefferson University before falling to eventual champion Caldwell (N.J.) in the conference tournament semis. 

With a large group of players in the transfer portal, including MJ Iraldi (13.6 ppg), Conor Reagan (10.2 ppg) and Nigel Haughton, Pettit has a real chance to compete for minutes. If that seasoned scoring ability replicates what he did as a prep player, he will be in line for a prominent role in year one with the Griffins.

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