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.
New Heights, Panthers in is8 Final; Smith Leaning Toward Louisville; Collier Talks Plans
No. 2 seed New Heights and the No. 1 New York Panthers will play for the is8 championship on Sunday in Queens after both teams won their semifinal games Saturday.
JayVaughn Pinkston poured in a game-high 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting and added seven rebounds, and Devon Collier added 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks to lead New Heights to an 84-80 victory over St. Benedict’s Prep.
“It’s great,” New Heights coach Kimani Young said. “is8 is one of the premier tournaments on the East Coast. To be right there at the end, the last two out of 70 teams, it’s a great accomplishment.”
Texas-bound guard Myck Kabongo led the Gray Bees with 26 points on 7-for-18 shooting and was 10-of-10 from the line. He also had five assists, four rebounds and 10 turnovers. Gil Biruta went scoreless with three rebounds for St. Ben’s.
The Panthers beat New Heights in last year’s semifinals.
“We’ve been battling for the finals for three years,” said Collier, a senior forward at St. Anthony. “We made it to the semis three years and lost.”
The Panthers downed Boys & Girls, 85-63, in the first semi.
South Kent (Conn.) guard Russell Smith, who is planning an upcoming visit to Louisville Nov. 15, scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. J.J. Moore had 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 5-of-8 for 3, and 10 rebounds.
SMITH LEANING TOWARD LOUISVILLERussell Smith said he is leaning toward committing to Louisville when he and his father, Russell Smith, Sr., visit Nov. 15.
“The chances are likely,” the 6-2, 165-pound Smith said Saturday. “It’s a big program, big coach. I wouldn’t doubt that.”
Smith dropped 27 points in the Jordan Brand Regional Game back in April at Madison Square Garden and was named co-MVP of that event.
He also holds offers from Houston, Baylor and Arizona and his father said they may visit Houston Monday and Tuesday of this week. Smith said he’s focused on taking the SAT Nov. 7 and on preparing for practice that same day and isn’t sure whether he’ll make the Houston visit.
At this point, Louisville looks like the odds-on favorite.
“[He] is going on his official visit to Louisville Nov. 15. Coach [Rick] Pitino and Coach [Ralph] Willard were out here a couple weeks ago and really liked him a lot,” South Kent coach coach Kelvin Jefferson said. “I think Russ wants to sign early and I’m sure Louisville’s at the top of his list.”
Added Russell Smith Sr.: “He’s pretty interested. He’s pretty much leaning toward them right now.”
COLLIER TALKS SETON HALL VISIT
The 6-8 Collier took an official visit to Seton Hall from Thursday-Saturday and said he enjoyed it.
“My Seton Hall visit went good,” Collier said. “We were chilling with the players. I was able to see the exhibition game [against Carleton University]. It was a good experience.”
Collier has now visited Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence and Oregon State and plans to decide sometime in the coming weeks.
“I’m done with all my visits,” he said. “I’m going to sit down with my father and Adam [Berkowitz of New Heights] and see what’s best for me.”
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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.