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Chris Arcidiacono breaking out at Neshaminy

02/07/2017, 10:30am EST
By Josh Verlin

Chris Arcidiacono (above) is carving his own legacy at Neshaminy, where his brother starred. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)

Certainly, there’s one advantage Chris Arcidiacono has over his older brother.

When Ryan Arcidiacono was coming up through the high school and college ranks he had to listen to quite a few broadcasters, PA announcers and reporters butcher his last name with any variety of pronunciations.

“Before every high school game, I used to have to tell (PA announcers) how to [say it],” Ryan said. “Myself, my siblings, we’ve all heard a million different variations of it -- we just laugh.”

Now, for just about anybody who pays attention to the local (or national) hoops scene,  “ARCH-e-dee-ack-uh-no” spills as easily off the tongue as Smith or Jones.

Yes, when your older brother leads his team to the NCAA men’s basketball national championship -- if you haven’t heard by now about Ryan Arcidiacono and last year’s Villanova Wildcats, how was life under the rock? -- people tend to know your name.

“I don’t have that problem anymore,” Chris said. “During the national championship run...everyone started saying it all the time.”

And it’s a good thing, too, because once again more and more people in the area’s basketball scene are once again talking about Arcidiacono.

Chris, now a junior at Neshaminy, has been one of the area’s breakout players during the 2016-17 high school season. After missing a good portion of his sophomore year and the summer following it with various injuries, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard is quickly making up for lost time.

In an overtime loss to Perkiomen Valley on Monday night, Arcidiacono dropped 33 points on 9-of-17 shooting, adding five rebounds and five assists in a terrific all-around effort. That kind of effort has become more typical than not, and schools are taking notice.

Recently, he picked up his first offer, from Eastern Kentucky; other schools are sure to follow, especially once he hits the recruiting trail this April/July.

“It was amazing, all the hard work that I’ve put in just to get a D-I offer, I felt very good about myself and I was very excited,” he said. “More to come, I’m sure.”

Ryan, now in his first year of professional basketball with the Austin Spurs, the D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs, couldn’t be happier.

“I’m ecstatic for him, I know how hard he’s worked, we work out together when I’m home in the summer and I’m sure we will this summer, too,” the 2016 Final Four Most Outstanding Player said. “It’s great to see all the hard work’s paying off for him and he’s making a name for himself, that’s for sure.”

Ryan Arcidiacono (above) will go down as one of the best players in Villanova basketball history. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Despite the obvious physical resemblance and the can’t-miss last name, Ryan Arcidiacono wants his younger brother to develop his own reputation on the court.

“He doesn’t have to live up to any standards. I don’t want people to think of me every time they think of him,” Ryan said. “He’s Chris, he’s a completely different player.

But Chris hasn’t always made that easy. He’s clearly got some Ryan Arch in his attitude and his game -- the same head fake, the same ability to seek out contact and get to the line, the ability to make those around him better.

“He picked No. 15, too, which doesn’t really help,” Ryan said with a laugh.

It’s certainly tough to ignore when every opposing fanbase brings up the family connection.

And Ryan left quite a legacy -- first player in Villanova history with 1500 points and 500 assists, four-year starter, school record for wins (since broken), fourth all-time at VU in assists. Oh, and that whole national championship thing.

“At the away games, you know, they’re always picking on me, always saying ‘your brother’s better,’ but I try to tune them out and just play my game,” Chris said. “He’s brought more pressure onto me, but I’m playing well with it.”

The Perkiomen Valley student section didn’t have much of a chance to deride the younger Arcidiacono brother on Monday night, as he was terrific throughout. Chris had 14 of his team’s 15 first-quarter points and 22 in the first half alone, which ended with Neshaminy leading 28-25.

When the Vikings finally regained the lead late in the fourth, Arcidiacono tied it with a driving layup with a minute left to send it to overtime. In the extra session he scored seven points, including a late 3-pointer to keep his team in the game before PV’s foul shots sealed it.

“He’s super-confident, that’s why schools are coming around, that’s why he already got an offer,” Neshaminy coach Mark Tingle said. “He’s very, very confident right now, which is great, it’s great for us, and he’s also confident in passing the ball to our players tonight -- we hit shots, which is great, that’s what kept us in the game.”

Though Chris won’t get to his brother’s school record of 1,500 points, he has a chance to help Neshaminy do something it hasn’t done since his brother wore the uniform -- get his team to the playoffs.

Heading into Monday night’s game, Neshaminy (9-12) was No. 20 in the District 1 6A power rankings, with the top 24 teams at the end of the regular season making the playoffs. One game remains, tonight (Tuesday) against Pennridge at home; even with a loss, Neshaminy should be safe and in the bracket for the first time since 2011.

And after taking a 19-3 Perkiomen Valley squad which should be the district’s No. 1 overall seed to overtime, Arcidiacono and his teammates know they have the talent to pull an upset or two and make the state bracket.

“We learned we can play with any team in the district,” he said. “That was the number one team in the district, they’re a really good team...if we make the playoffs, we could create a little buzz.”

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