Thomas Jefferson baller Shamorie Ponds is living up to all of the hype — and his team is exceeding it.
They have done everything right since a shocking season-opening loss at home to Queens High School of Teaching. The St. John’s-bound guard has taken up the mantel as New York City’s best player, and he’s running with it. And the Orange Wave (6–1) has slowly become the team to beat in the Public School Athletic League’s Brooklyn AA Division — especially after Abraham Lincoln’s loss to Paul Robeson, which Jefferson beat by 17 points.
Ponds, who Entertainment and Sports Programming Network ranked No. 41 nationwide, averaged 28.2 points, 5.4 assists, and 5 rebounds over his first five league games — including 44 points to help beat George Westinghouse, 41 points in a seven-point win over South Shore, and 32 points against Bedford Academy. Ponds also hit a buzzer-beater to seal a 75–74 comeback against Catholic power Cardinal Hayes.
St. John’s fans in particular ought to be happy with that type of performance — Ponds is giving Johnnies boosters plenty of reasons to be excited for his arrival in Queens next season.
He continued his strong season in a battle of the area’s top two players in East New York — with Red Storm coach Chris Mullin in attendance — earlier this month. Ponds hit five three-pointers in the first half to account for 15 of his 21 points during Jefferson’s 71–58 victory against Iona Prep and Virginia-commit Ty Jerome on Dec. 11.
Jerome, who has already led his team past three-time defending Catholic High School Athletic Association Class AA Intersectional champion Christ the King, went for damage control in the second half. He dropped in 27 of his game-high 34 points, began guarding Ponds, and held him to six points over the third and fourth quarters, but the damage was already long done.
Ponds’s hot start is not the only reason the Orange Wave threatens to reach its fourth city championship game in the last five years. St. Francis College commit Rasheem Dunn, an athletic guard, has been the Robin to Ponds’ Batman by averaging 12 points per contest. And Bishop Loughlin transfer Marques Watson has emerged as a viable third scoring option — he connected on three straight treys during first half of a decisive run against Iona Prep.
The three-headed attack — led by Ponds — and the team’s commitment to pressure defense has Jefferson rolling after a rocky start. The other two need to continue to feed off the defensive attention Ponds is rightfully getting.
The Orange Wave and Lincoln will decide who truly deserves the title of division big dog when the teams meet for the first time this season in East New York on Jan. 9.
For now, Ponds is proving he is the city’s best player each and every night — and positioning Jefferson to be the five boroughs’ best club.