St. John’s fans will have anotherr lefty from Brooklyn to root for next year.
Thomas Jefferson senior guard Shamorie Ponds ended weeks of speculation by verbally committing to the Red Storm — and first-year head coach Chris Mullin — at a press conference at the East New York school on Sept. 29.
Ponds, ranked No. 41 in the nation by ESPN.com, is the highest ranked New York City recruit to commit to St. John’s since Maurice Harkless in 2011. Much of his decision to do so went back to the relationship he forged with Mullin, also a lefty guard from Brooklyn.
“We related a lot because he stayed home and played for St. John’s,” Ponds said. “Lefty. We basically went off of that.”
Ponds chose St. John’s over Providence, Creighton, and Minnesota. He never wavered from Mullin and the Red Storm.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Ponds said. “He can put me in an NBA style of play. He can put me in a head start.”
The Orange Wave star also stressed how important it was for him to play in front of his family and friends. And there’s an attraction to taking the court at Madison Square Garden, a place Ponds has never played.
“He stuck to St. John’s and that’s what it was,” said his father Shawn Ponds, Sr. “Ultimately I think it is going to be the best for him.”
Ponds is the best player currently competing in the five boroughs, with fellow St. John’s target Rawle Alkins playing his final season at Word of God in North Carolina.
The Jefferson standout hopes to be the first of many local recruits opting to stay home with the Johnnies. He said he was already texting Alkins after the press conference.
“I’m working on it right now,” Ponds said.
His commitment allows Mullin to begin making good on his promise that the Red Storm is going to dominate local recruiting during his tenure.
The 6-foot-1 Ponds averaged 25 points, nine rebounds, and six assists per contest last season. The athletic lanky wing scored in bunches, at the rim, and from the outside. Ponds’s best game was a 37-point night in an early season win over Lincoln.
He spent most of this summer skyrocketing up the national rankings. After his junior travel-ball season didn’t go the way he hoped, Ponds hit the gym and set out to prove has was among the elite guards in his class. He was ranked No. 100 in early April, but played his way onto the Elite 24 roster, in a game that showcases the top talent in the country.
“I didn’t think he would be that tall or that athletic,” said Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard. “The other day I watched him do a 360-backwards dunk. I didn’t see that as a freshman. He was a little chubby kid who was really good, and he got better.”
Ponds is heading to a program that wants to get better too, with a fellow lefty scorer at the helm.
“I think Shamorie is going to be part of something that is going to build,” said Shawn Ponds Sr. “St. John’s is going to build with Chris Mullin.”