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.
HOUSTON — Say one thing about D’Angelo Harrison.
He’s confident and not afraid to make bold predictions.
The 6-foot-3 St. John’s commit told SNY.tv on Sunday that the Johnnies will make the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans.
“Next year Final Four, I’m saying it right now,” Harrison said. “Next year St. John’s Final Four. Bam.”
Harrison was one of four St. John’s commits competing in the All-American Championship at the M.O. Campbell Center. He had 21 points, six rebounds and three assists to help the West squad beat the East, 107-104.
For the East, St. Johns-bound wing Maurice Harkless was named Most Outstanding Player after posting 15 points and four rebounds in the loss. JaKarr Sampson, another St. John’s commit on the East, had 10 points and four rebounds.
Sir’Dominic Pointer, the lone Johnnies pledge on the South team, scored 18 points and grabbed five boards in a 93-91 win over the North.
“We got four players that are going to St. John’s, so you know coach [Steve] Lavin got something going, you know?” said the 6-8 Sampson, who was sporting a black St. John’s hat.
Sampson is from Akron, Ohio and remains close with LeBron James. He said The King is high on Lavin and the Johnnies.
“He says we’re looking nice and he likes Coach Lav,” Sampon said of LeBron. “For next year and the past season, he just like the program. I don’t know if he knows much about him [Lavin] but he likes him. It makes me feel good.”
St. John’s will graduate eight key seniors, including All-Big East first-team guard Dwight Hardy, who is slated to attend the Portsmouth Invitational this week.
They have eight players signed, plus IMG Academy guard Phil Greene, who has verbally committed.
Still, Harrison, out of Missouri City (Texas) Dulles, said the incoming players have lofty goals.
“With these people coming in, I think we can go farther than they did this year,” Harrison said, referring to St. John’s first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Gonzaga. “Even though I think they could’ve went farther, they just had a bad game.
“I think we can do big things next year. I’m talking about let’s go to the Final Four next year, that’s what I’m talking about.”
The four St. John’s commits bonded during their time in Houston by hitting Dave & Busters and hanging at the hotel, something Harrison thought was important.
“Every chance we could, we were all talking, eating a burger or something, catching up, just trying to make sure we know each other and get ready for next year,” Harrison said.
Point guard duties next season are likely to be split by incoming JUCO guard Nurideen Lindsey, who was on pace to break Wilt Chamberlain’s Philly schoolboy scoring record before he left the city for junior college, and holdover Malik Stith.
Lavin has recruited a slew of wings in Harkless, Pointer, Sampson and Amir Garrett of Findlay Prep, but Pointer isn’t deterred.
“The way [Lavin] plays, he plays so many people, that everyone’s going to play so it’s nothing to complain about,” Pointer said. “We all can coexist.”
Harkless said all the wings can get playing time in Lavin’s system.
“Everybody keeps saying that some people aren’t going to play, but I think everybody’s going to be able to play at once,” the Queens native said. “The way they play, they play so up-and-down it’s not really anybody in the post. It’s like a West Coast style game in the Big East, so I think we’ll be able to change the way we play.”
He said last year’s team laid the foundation for the new guys.
“I know everybody’s going to have a chance to play,” he said. “And they built a lot of momentum for us with the great season they had this year. We’ve just got to perform next year.”
Harrison sees himself as a combo guard who can facilitate the offense and score.
“I’m a combo,” he said. “I think I can play the one, I can get them the ball. I can score when I have to, so I’m going to fit wherever.”
Taking one look at Sampson and the 6-6 Harkless, he said, “Look how big they are. That’s what I’m talking about. So I just gotta throw it in the air and they’re gonna dunk it. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m going to be able shoot it.
“It’s gonna be crazy up there.”
For the East, Duke-bound Michael Gbinije had 14 points and five rebounds, uncommitted junior DaJuan Coleman scored 12 points, Ohio State commit Laquinton Ross scored 11 points and Kansas-bound point guard Naadir Tharpe had 10 points and seven assists.
West Virginia-bound Jabarie Hinds of Mount Vernon, fresh off winning a New York State Federation Class AA title Sunday, added nine points. Villanova commit Tyrone Johnson flew in after winning the ESPN Rise NHSI title Saturday with Montrose Christian and scored two points. Rutgers-bound Myles Mack had four points and four assists.
For the West, Texas signee Julien Lewis posted 17 points and seven rebounds and uncommitted senior Shabazz Muhammad scored 17 points. Uncommitted junior Perry Ellis earned Most Outstanding Player honors after posting 14 points and eight rebounds and Duke-bound Rasheed Sulaimon scored 13 with six assists.
For the South, uncommitted junior big man Tony Parker earned MOP honors with 21 points and nine boards. Arizona-bound Josiah Turner had 13 points and seven assists. He scored the winning basket on a layup at the buzzer.
For the North, Arkansas commit B.J. Young earned MOP honors and UConn commit Ryan Boatright added 10 points
MCLEMORE TO KANSASBen McLemore chose Kansas over Missouri on Sunday.
“When Kansas came to the table, I knew they were a good program, but the decision was still back and forth,” the 6-5 McLemore told the Kansas City Star. “We decided it was the best place for me.”
According to the Star, Kansas has six guards on scholarship for next season: Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford, Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge and former walk-on Conner Teahan.
McLemore will join Brewster (N.H.) Academy point guard Naadir Tharpe, who signed with Kansas last fall, meaning KU will have eight guards.
Taylor and/or Selby could elect to jump to the NBA.
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.