Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Lamont “Momo” Jones will suit up next year for Bob Hurley.
Jones, a talented 6-foot, 196-pound shooting guard, last year played alongside Tyreke Evans for Tony Bergeron at American Christian in Aston, Pa. When American Christian shut its high school wing, many figured Jones would follow Bergeron when he went to coach nearby Blair Christian (Pa.).
But Bergeron has opted to take a job at East Longmeadow High (Mass.) to be near his ailing father, and Jones is coming to St. Anthony.
“His GPA in school is over 3.0. I think that’s a positive,” Hurley said in a phone interview. “St. Anthony doesn’t normally take seniors. But the fact that his school (American Christian) closed and he’s got grades and the third thing is that he has a Catholic school background. His first two years he was at Rice, then he went to the Christian school this year. So I think those things would be the consideration.
“Has he officially been accepted? No. But I think it looks pretty good for him to be accepted.”
“Wherever Coach Bergeron ends up or where I feel comfortable for me, that’s where I’ll go,” Jones told me last month at the Steve Nash Nike Skills Academy.
Jones, a onetime Louisville commit who initially played at Rice High School in Manhattan, lives in Harlem and his commute will be quite easy.
“His commute is probably 40 minutes,” said Hurley, a future Hall of Famer with more than 900 career wins and 25 state championships. “For anybody in Manhattan, it’s not real complicated.”
St. Anthony is the defending national prep champion and New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner. A year ago, the Friars went 32-0 and sent six players to Division I programs, including two to the Big East (Mike Rosario-Rutgers, Travon Woodall-Pitt) and one to defending national champion Kansas (Tyshawn Taylor).
Jones can slide in a play a major role as a point or two guard under Hurley.
“Because Tyreke Evans had the ball, (Jones) never really had the ball,” Hurley said. “I know that he’s a good defensive guard and he’s physical and he can shoot. And at his height he needs to play the point in college, so he would certainly be a guy that would be able to handle the ball at St. Anthony if he does in fact wind up there.”
Jones becomes the fifth transfer taken in this offseason by Hurley. Forwards Devon Collier, Ashton Pankey, Derrick Williams and guard Eli Carter have all transferred in. All of them will have to sit the state-mandated 30 days except for Williams, Hurley said. Tuition at St. Anthony is $4,400. (Read more about the Mass Exodus from New York Catholic League here.)
“People are showing up the door,” Hurley said. “Paying students who have transcripts that are decent. The school gets an awful lot of kids that commute in from Newark, and now we’re getting more and more kids that are coming in from Manhattan, not just basketball players but other students because it’s so close. We’re the first stop in New Jersey. I think the cost there has some effect, and I’m sure the basketball success this year had something to do with it, but I think it’s probably a wild coincidence and I wouldn’t imagine it was going to be a steady situation because it really hasn’t happened before.
“I think this is as many transfers in one year as we’ve had in the last 10 years. But when your school is having financial trouble, you don’t turn down a kid — whether he’s an athlete or not — who has decent grades who is going to be paying tuition in a school that’s trying to keep the doors open.”
The Friars also return 6-5 wing Dominic Cheek, 6-7 forward Jamee Jackson and guards Willie Vaughn, Devon McCloud and Jordan Quick. Hurley said McCloud would also play some point.
Jones sprained his ankle this summer at the LeBron James Academy but previously participated in the Nash camp in New Jersey.
“Not many people have the experience to say that they worked with Steve Nash,” Jones said. “And I think it’s a privilege to work with him. I’ll never take that for granted. I’ll always use that.”
Jones recently visited Seton Hall for a couple of hours and is reportedly also considering Xavier, Oklahoma State and Texas.
“It was a good visit (to Seton Hall),” he said. “Right now, I’m not really thinking about college. Just focusing on high school. Finishing up my senior year. I’m pretty open to anybody right now. (I have) no preliminary list right now.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.