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.
You can never have enough skilled guards in the Big East and St. John’s just added another one.
Point guard Malik Stith, a Hempstead, N.Y. native who spent this year at Bridgton (Me.) Academy, verbally committed to St. John’s on Tuesday morning.
“I made [the decision] last night on my own,” the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Stith said Tuesday by phone. “I slept on it just to make sure I was 100 percent that everything was right. I called [St. John’s head coach] Norm Roberts today and I told him.
“I signed a fax paper today and I will sign my official Letter of Intent [Wednesday].”
Bridgton coach Whit Lesure previously coached St. John’s stars Justin Burrell and Paris Horne.
Stith, rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals, took official visits to St. John’s and La Salle, and the La Salle coaches thought they had a good shot at him.
“I felt good in both programs,” Stith said. “It’s just that I decided to go to St. John’s.
“It was a family decision. We felt like it was a place I could be successful at.”
Stith scored 18 points and earned MVP honors as Bridgton beat South Kent (Conn.) 89-85 to win the NEPSAC Class A Championship last month at Endicott College.
South Kent features incoming St. John’s guard Omari Lawrence and had actually beaten Bridgton in the two previous meetings this past season.
“I knew Omari from earlier days playing AAU,” Stith said. “We got kind of close this year. We talked about me possibly going to St. John’s.
“We played them three times this year. They beat us twice and we beat them in the championship game.”
Stith played three years of high school ball in Hempstead before moving to live with his mother in North Carolina and playing at Mecklenberg High School in Charlotte.
“I was the North Carolina Player of the Year my senior year [according to the Charlotte Observer],” he said.
Stith initially commited to St. John’s last spring but then ended up at Bridgton for a year to work on his academics.
“I had the test score, it was more so for grades,” he said. “I just felt that prep school was better to work on my academics and it gave me another year to work on my game. I came here and we won the championship.”
Stith will add depth to the backcourt behind sophomore point guard Malik Boothe and joins an incoming class that includes Lawrence and shooting guard Dwight Hardy of Indian Hills Community College.
“In the Big East you gotta be deep with guards. “If I get the starting spot I get it. I just want to bring a spark back.”
Stith said with this recruiting class — which could still include Brooklyn Lincoln class Lance Stephenson— the Johnnies could move up in the Big East standings next year.
“With the players they have coming back and me and Omari coming in, that’s what St. John’s needed to get back over the hump and be in the race for the conference championship,” he said.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, 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.