Re-establishing the program within New York City from a recruiting standpoint is an important task for St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin and his staff, and Sunday evening one of the top players in the city announced that the Red Storm are one of four teams still in the running for his commitment.
6-foot-3 guard Shamorie Ponds, who’s ranked 45th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, announced that he’s cut his list to four with St. John’s, Creighton, Minnesota and Providence being the remaining schools. The Brooklyn native attends Thomas Jefferson HS, and this summer he played with the New York Lightning grassroots program.
As a junior Ponds was named to the New York Daily News’ first team All-City squad, averaging 24.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per contest in PSAL (Public School Athletic League) games.
Each of the four teams remaining on Ponds’ list is in a position where they need a versatile guard who can both score and distribute the basketball. In regards to the Red Storm, who are also in the running for former Christ the King guard Rawle Alkins, Ponds represents a local recruit who can help the new staff strengthen recruiting bonds within the city that weakened some in recent years.
Personnel-wise, the Red Storm will have to account for the loss of Felix Balamou (senior) and grad students Durand Johnson and Ron Mvouika at the end of the 2015-16 season. The addition of freshmen Marcus LoVett Jr., Malik Ellison and Federico Mussini will help in that regard, but adding another perimeter option wouldn’t hurt.
As for Creighton (which is hosting Ponds on a visit this weekend), the Bluejays have one senior (James Milliken) and four juniors heading into the 2015-16 season. Head coach Greg McDermott does have two freshman guards joining the program in Marlon Stewart and Khyri Thomas, but the high number of upperclassmen on the perimeter puts his program in a position where another guard would help the numbers moving forward.
Providence is also in a position of need when it comes to recruiting players who can play the point, as redshirt junior Kris Dunn is projected to be a first-round pick whenever he decides to leave school. Junior Lomomba will be a junior as well, and the Friars also have sophomores Kyron Cartwright and Tyree Chambers and freshmen Ricky Council and Drew Edwards to call upon moving forward.
Lastly there’s Minnesota, which has a solid point guard in sophomore Nate Mason on this year’s roster. The Golden Gophers add freshmen Dupree McBrayer and Kevin Dorsey to the program, with the latter being a four-star point guard who’s expected to spell Mason when necessary.
Each of the four teams on Ponds’ final list has a need for a perimeter option. But his being a native of Brooklyn makes Ponds an important recruit for St. John’s as it begins the Chris Mullin (as head coach) era.