Jefferson’s Ponds nearing college decision after rankings rise

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Shamorie Ponds’ meteoritic rise to one of the nation’s elite high-school players is set to come a close with a fast-approaching college commitment.

The Thomas Jefferson guard, ranked No. 45 nationally by Rivals, has narrowed the field down to four schools — St. John’s, Minnesota, Providence, and Creighton. He visited Creighton last week and plans on heading to St. John’s Aug. 18–20 and Minnesota on Sept. 18–20, and he will see Providence sometime in between those two.

It is important to Ponds to land a spot before the season starts, because constant communication with coaches and recruiters will only bring added distractions. He expects to make a decision as soon as late September.

“The recruiting is annoying,” he said. “There are a lot of messages late at night. Coaches say I don’t respond, but its nothing personal.”

Wanting to make a choice soon has only added to the pressure that comes with being a top target.

“It’s getting more tense because you are getting down to the last four schools that you like,” Ponds said. “It’s getting hard to chose. You are just trying to do what’s best for you and your family.”

Ponds did get to have some fun last Saturday night, playing with and against some of the top players from around the country in the fifth annual Big Strick Classic All-Star game at Gauchos Gym in the Bronx. The 6-foot Ponds scored eight points and dished out three assists in the Team New York City’s 159–137 loss to Team USA.

This was Ponds’ first appearance in the game, while kids such as former Lincoln star Isaiah Whitehead and Canarsie native Rawle Alkins, formerly of Christ the King, have participated multiple times. Despite it being an exhibition game, it helps anytime you play against top competition.

“It’s fun, you are playing against basically who you will be playing against in college,” Ponds said. “You already know who your competition is and who you are going up against.”

He will get to do that again at the Elite 24 game on Aug. 23 in a contest broadcast live on ESPNU, achieving one of his goals. It’s a venue where the local kid can put his name further onto the national stage with a strong performance. Alkins will also take part in the contest.

“That’s my first time playing on TV live,” Ponds said.

He has already impressed all those who have watched him play. Esteemed basketball talent evaluator Tom Konchalski called Ponds’s jump into the top 50 “pretty dramatic” after no one had him anywhere near that level a year ago. He was ranked No. 100 in early April. As much as Ponds has seen, it maybe mentally where he has grown the most.

“With confidence, it fuels him,” Konchalski said. “He is very confident in his ability to play against the best players and to score against them.”

Konchalski called Ponds the best he’s ever seen at guarding the inbound pass. He saw Ponds steal and score for three passes in a single game at the Tri-State Classic this summer. Konchalski credits the Orange Waves stars’ hands and instincts.

“He has soft hands and he has great anticipati­on,” he said.

Ponds is looking forward to the recruiting process being over soon, but he plans to enjoy every experience that comes his way before he picks his future home.

“I want it to be over,” Ponds said. “But I don’t want to rush it.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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