SHORELINE, Wash. – The 2016 Paradise Jam participants Florida State, Kansas State, Gonzaga, LSU, NC State, and Michigan all qualified
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – Will ‘Neva’ Petersen was honored Sunday at the Paradise Jam men’s basketball tournament for his induction into the U.S. Virgin Island Basketball Hall of Fame, presented by Paradise Jam.
Petersen, a native of St. Thomas, began his career in the St. Thomas Basketball Association’s leagues as a teen. He left the island of St. Thomas at the age of 17 to attend the Laurinberg Institute in North Carolina where he honed his skills and furthered his education.
The move to North Carolina provided Petersen the opportunity to attend St. Andrews College, now an NCAA Division-II school. During his tenure at St. Andrews, Petersen led his team to conference championships while racking up three MVP awards and earning an English degree. He ranks third on the NCAA Division-III scoring list at 2,553 points after averaging 22.0 per game at St. Andrews College.
In 1979, Petersen also played a vital role on the Virgin Islands National Team. During the Pan-American games, the VI National Team defeated Brazil for the first and only time to date, as Petersen was named to the All-Tournament team. Petersen concluded his playing career playing a year with the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Petersen served as assistant basketball coach at Valdosta High School in Georgia for four years before moving on to coach at Lowndes High School. He simultaneously developed the first athletic program at St. John Catholic School where he worked tirelessly to develop a championship women’s basketball team. He served as athletic director at St. John’s from 1993-2014.
Petersen recently returned home to reconnect with his family and the Virgin Islands community to help work with local youth. Petersen hopes to one day develop enrichment and athletic-based programs for young Virgin Islanders.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Basketball Hall of Fame was created in 2012 to honor residents of the USVI that have succeeded in the sport of basketball on the Islands and beyond. The award is presented annually at the Paradise Jam to honor the induction class. Past inductees include Cyril “CB” Benjamin (2014), Rudy Farrell (2012), Robert “X” Gumbs (2013), Rudy Milligan (2012), Louis Penn Sr. (2013), Arthur “Gutu” Solomon (2014), Stephanie Williams (2015), Glen “Kimble” Wilson (2013), and members of the 1965 USVI National Team (2015).