Roy Neal was born and raised in one of the tougher neighborhoods of Syracuse, an area that has produced dozens of great basketball players. He had the good fortune to be a member of the Boys Club where the late Donnie Fielder took him under his wing and started him on his way to hoop fame.
Neal’s teams at Madison Middle School won the city’s Junior High Championship in the 1964-1965 season. At Central Tech, Neal made coach Jack Johnson’s starting lineup as a sophomore and averaged 16 ppg. He was a second team CNY All Star in 1966. In his junior season, Central Tech finished second in the league with a 13-3 record and Neal averaged 19 ppg. He was co-captain of the CNY All-Star first team and was chosen as one of the game’s top 500 players by a national magazine.
It all came together for Neal and coach Manny Breland during the 1967-1968 season when Central Tech captured the city championship, the Section III title, the Westhill Christmas tournament and a sparkling 21-1 record. Neal led the league in scoring with 362 points and 22.6 ppg. He was selected to the Pepsi Cola All-American Team by Coaches and Athlete Magazine. In 1967-1968, Neal was first team all-state in basketball and was a member of the first-ever Parade Magazine All-American scholastic team.
Neal played in the first Capital District Schoolboy Classic as LaSolette Seminary where his roommate was none other that the great “Dr. J” Julius Irving. He won the New England Boy’s Club “Boy of the Year” Award. Back in Syracuse, his community named him winner of the coveted Ormand Spencer Memorial Award as Outstanding Student Athlete.
He went to New Mexico State University and Neal’s freshman team went 20-0. Neal averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per game. The following season, 1969-1970, was the greatest season in New Mexico State history as the great Lou Henson led his team to a 28-3 regular season and a third place finish in the NCAA Final Four. The next season, New Mexico State finished 19-8 and earn another NCAA invitation. Neal played hurt with a pulled Achilles tendon. He was co-captain of the 1971-72 team that went 22-5. But Neal averaged only 7 points and 6 rebounds due to to a career-ending knee injury which required post-season surgery.
While his playing days were over, Neal continued to contribute on the hardwood. He assisted the New Mexico State program then returned to coach Junior Varsity at Central Tech in Syracuse. He co-founded the Donnie Fielder Basketball League for inner city youth and coached the girls varsity basketball team at Fowler High School. He was a volunteer assistant coach for Syracuse University women’s basketball team and he coached at Corcoran High School from 2001–2003.
1967-1968: Averaged 22.6 ppg at Central Tech; selected to the Pepsi Cola All-American Team by Coaches and Athlete Magazine; first team all-state
1969-1970: Went to NCAA Final Four with New Mexico State, placed third
2004: Inducted into the New Mexico State University Sports Hall of Fame