Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A. J. Nastasi to be Inducted in Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame

On February 7, 1998, Northern Bedford County 3-sport standout A. J. Nastasi hit a 3-pointer with 6:20 remaining in the second quarter breaking the Pennsylvania all-time scoring record of 3,608 held by Mansfield’s Tom McMillen.  McMillen, a future NBA player for the Washington Bullets and US Congressman, had held the record since 1970.  Nastasi finished his high school career with 3,833 points and a state record that has yet to be broken. 


Jeff Batzel, the Everett High School basketball coach during Nastasi’s playing days understood the challenges that A. J. created for his opponents.   

“He was the most outstanding pure scorer any of my teams ever had to defend,” remarked Batzel.  You couldn’t stop him.  Slowing him down was the best you could hope for.” 

During his time at NBC, Nastasi displayed his athleticism in baseball, basketball, and football.  His skill on the basketball court was exceptionally noteworthy.  He averaged an amazing 33.3 points over 115 high school games.  Throughout his career he scored 40 or more points in 28 games and surpassed the 50-point mark in five contests.  His high point was a dominating 59-point performance against Fannett-Metal High School.  A. J.’s high school uniform and sneakers were displayed at the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. 


In football, playing for his father Joe, Nastasi was equally dominant. Over his four-year high school career, he amassed an impressive 2,429 receiving yards, a testament to his speed, hands, and football IQ.  


His athletic accomplishments in high school earned him four-time Bedford County All-Star and four-time regional All-Star honors in both basketball and football. Additionally, he was named to six All-State teams across the two sports, underscoring his versatility and elite performance. In the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, he was named the Pennsylvania Basketball Player of the Year, reflecting his dominance on the court.  His talents were recognized on the national stage as he appeared in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” celebrating emerging sports talents. 


Nastasi showcased his athletic ability in high-profile all-star games, playing in the
Pennsylvania Big 33 All-Star football game and the USA National Basketball Born to Run All-Star Game. These appearances further solidified his reputation as one of the top athletes among his peers.

Tussey Mountain rival Randy Meck expressed his challenges competing against Nastasi.

“I battled against him beginning in third grade.  His mental toughness set him apart from other opponents and his work ethic allowed him to be successful in anything he wanted to doA. J. had great sportsmanship, except for lighting us up on the scoreboard.” 

Nastasi's athletic path continued with a full football scholarship to West Virginia University, where he excelled as a wide receiver. Over his four-year collegiate career, he became a key player for the Mountaineers, earning four letters and making significant contributions to the team's offense. In 2001, Nastasi led West Virginia with 42 receptions, ranking third in the Big East Conference. His performance that year included three touchdowns, placing him ninth in the conference. 

Off the field, Nastasi's dedication to academics was equally commendable. He was named to the Big East Academic All-Star team in 1999, 2000, and 2001, highlighting the balance between academics and athletics. 


His legacy continues to motivate young athletes, showing the true nature of excelling both on the field and in the classroom. 

A. J. and his wife Nicole live in West Virginia with their three children.

Nastasi will be inducted into the Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame on June 29 at Everett High School.