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.
Pinkston Powers New Heights to is8 Crown; NIA Prep Knocks off Georgia Prep Powers
If there was any doubt that JayVaughn Pinkston was the best high school player in New York City, those questions appear to have been answered Sunday.
The 6-foot-6 Pinkston poured in 29 points on 12-for-26 shooting to lead New Heights to an 87-83 victory over the New York Panthers in the is8 championship game in Queens. Pinkston added seven rebounds, two assists and one block.
Coming off a 30-point outburst in a semifinal win over St. Benedict’s, Pinkston was named is8 Playoff MVP.
“Hands down, I can’t see anyone disputing that [he’s the best player in the city]. He just put us on his back and willed us to victory today. He refused to let us lose today,” said New Heights coach Kimani Young, whose team was down 16 points in the second quarter.
It was the first high school title for New Heights in their first finals appearance. The Panthers were the defending champs.
Devon Collier, who, along with Pinkston, was named First-Team is8, scored 11 of his 17 points points and grabbed five of his 12 rebounds in the fourth quarter. He pulled down eight offensive boards in the game.
“Whenever we needed a big basket or a big rebound, Devon was there every step of the way,” Young said.
New Heights took its first lead in the fourth quarter at78-76 on a basket by Collier off a dish by Corey Edwards.
David Coley added 15 points and Brandon Frazier 11 for New Heights.
“Every time we were going for the knockout punch, either David Coley or Brandon Frazier would hit a big 3 for them,” Panthers coach Gary Charles said.
The defending champion Panthers were led by J.J. Moore’s team-high 22 points on 6-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3. Russ Smith added 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting and Sterling Gibbs 14.
Moore was named is8 Player of the Year and Smith got the sportsmanship award.
In the end, Charles, whose program has won 16 titles, gave credit to Pinkston.
“I thought that JayVaughn finally played with the fire that I’ve been waiting to see,” Charles said. “I just wish it wasn’t today. I thought he played with a different vengeance in the second half of the game. I thought that him going against J.J. was an epic battle. They went at each other and they both brought out the best in each other. You could see it was two tremendously talented ballplayers out there on the floor. They were the two guys that people came to see and they didn’t disappoint.”
All-is8 First Team
Derrick Williams, St. Anthony
Aaron Brown, St. Benedict’s
JayVaughn Pinkston, Bishop Loughlin
Fuquan Edwin, Paterson Catholic
Russell Smith, Panthers
All-is8 Second Team
Devon Collier, St. Anthony
Leroy Isler, Boys & Girls
Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall Prep
Myck Kabongo, St. Benedict’s
Jeff Short, Kennedy
RECRUITING UPDATEJ.J. Moore will take an unofficial visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He has already taken unofficials to Louisville and St. John’s, and will choose from among those three schools. South Kent (Conn.) is out of school for a while because of a swine flu epidemic.
“A decision could still be a couple week away,” Charles said.
NIA PREP WINS TWO IN GEORGIA
NIA Prep defeated the No. 1 and 3 prep teams in Georgia during the Covenant Christian Academy Showcase this weekend in Marietta, Ga.
NIA downed Sound Doctrine Academy, 104-62, on Friday behind former University High star Devon Gibson’s 22 points and eight assists. Former Science Park star Rameel Johnson finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Shaquille Thomas scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
On Saturday, NIA Prep defeated Covenant Christian Academy, the No. 1 prep team in Georgia, 93-78. Gibson scored 20 points in the first half as NIA took a 50-24 lead. He finished with 26 points and eight assists. Isaiah Williams scored 26 points and grabbed 13 boards. Thomas chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds.
NIA is now 4-0 on the season with games upcoming against national prep powers St. Thomas More, South Kent, Lee Academy, Bridgton Academy, MCI, Notre Dame Prep and Winchendon.
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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.