After Temple’s players learned they’d face Penn State in Wednesday’s National Invitation Tournament first-round game at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus, Shizz Alston Jr. called Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens.
Carr and Stevens, Penn State sophomores who are the Nittany Lions’ two leading scorers, are graduates of Roman Catholic High School at Broad and Vine streets. During their junior years of high school, Alston and redshirt-sophomore guard Trey Lowe played Amateur Athletic Union basketball for Team Final, while Carr, Stevens and Penn State sophomore guard and Roman Catholic alumnus Nazeer Bostick played for a Team Final squad with a younger age group.
The players used to face each other in practices.
“Everything was always competitive,” Lowe said. “Everybody was always going at everybody attacking everybody.”
On Wednesday, Alston will play against Penn State’s Philly products for the first time since high school.
“[Carr] just said that he was kind of upset that they didn’t make the [NCAA] Tournament, but once he found out that they were playing us, he got excited,” Alston said. “So that kind of eased the burden off of them that they’re playing Temple.”
“[Stevens is] excited,” Alston added. “He’s more of the trash-talker type, so he’s talking a little bit of trash. But you know we’re just going to go out there and play hard.”
Alston and Stevens were high school teammates at The Haverford School in Haverford, Pennsylvania, before Stevens transferred to Roman Catholic for his senior season. They helped their team win 33 games during their two seasons at The Haverford School.
Lowe said both Carr and Stevens have improved their jump shots since high school. Carr is projected as a late first-round or early second-round 2018 NBA Draft pick by Sports Illustrated. Stevens earned Big Ten Conference Honorable Mention.
In addition to their three sophomores who used to play for Roman Catholic, the Nittany Lions have seven players who attended high school in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
The second one who came to Penn State is senior guard Shep Garner. He averages 11.1 points per game this season.
“I think Shep Garner got it all started,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “This is his last year at Penn State. [He] has had a terrific career and not only as a player on the court, but I think he’s done a really good job leading their team.”