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 YORK — Maurice Harkless watched from the bench Sunday as his Real Scout AAU team demolished NIA Prep, 74-48, in the iS8/Nike Spring Classic quarterfinals.
With Harkless on the bench with a bruised ankle, his future St. John’s teammate, forward JaKarr Sampson (pictured at left), dominated with 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting, 7 rebounds and 1 block.
Harkless hopes to be back for Saturday’s semifinals against the Playaz, who escaped with a 75-73 victory over the New York Panthers courtesy of a game-high 26 points from Rutgers-bound point guard Myles Mack and 25 from Georgetown signee Jabril Trawick.
And Harkless and Sampson could be joined for that game by fellow St. John’s signees D’Angelo Harrison, a 6-3 guard from Texas, and Norvel Pelle, a 6-10 center from California.
“I’m going to see if they’re available,” Real Scout coach Nate Blue said of Harrison and Pelle. “If they’re available, then there’s a great chance that they’ll be here.”
The 6-8 Harkless injured his right ankle in Saturday’s quarterfinal victory over Raising Champions.
“Maurice will be back on [next] Saturday,” Blue said. “He just has a bruised ankle. I didn’t want to take the chance today because it flared up a little bit. He went and got X-rays today [Sunday] at Jamaica Hospital. They said it wasn’t broken or anything. He just has a real good bruise.”
Added Harkless: “[The doctor] said I should stay off it for a couple days, I should be good next week.”
Without Harkless, Sampson dominated the NIA front line with several dunks and athletic moves near the basket.
“Without me to still do what they did, it makes me feel better about the team,” said Harkless,the Queens native who is the centerpiece of Steve Lavin’s No. 2 recruiting class.
After a sub-park game Saturday, Sampson came back strong in the quarters while matching up against Cincinnati-bound Shaquille Thomas (16 points).
“I played terrible yesterday [Saturday],” said Sampson, an Akron, Ohio native who played at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. “I just had my mindset this game I’ll never have two bad games in a row. That’s just something I go by, so I just came out and played hard from the get go.
“Even in the last month, his skill-set has improved significantly,” New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said. “He was the logical obverse to Maurice Harkless, who has an incredible skill-set and has effortless athleticism, but he’s got to play every possession which he doesn’t. He’s too casual and that’s his personality.
“[Sampson] is the exact opposite, but he’s really improved his skill-set significantly.”
Harkless and Sampson have gotten to know each other at the All-American Championship Game in Houston in April, and now through iS8.
“We already forming a bond, so it’s just going to be so much easier coming in and clicking ,” Sampson said. “It’s just going to be 10 times easier.”
Two other St. John’s signees were on display Sunday.
Amir Garrett had 10 points for the Panthers in their loss to the Playaz and Sir’Dominic Pointer dropped 23 as the Sean Bell All-Stars beat New Heights Joe Leone, 94-82, to advance to a semifinal showdown with New Heights Artie Cox.
New Heights Artie Cox advanced in the first quarterfinal behind Arizona-bound Sidiki Johnson’s 27 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Speaking of Garrett, Konchalski said: “Amir Garrett is an extra-terrestrial athlete. He’s left-handed, which is an advantage. He plays hard. What he’s got to do is improve his skill-set, he’s got to extend his range offensively. He’s got to become a legitimate 3-pointer shooter. He’s got to develop a right hand.
“I’m left-handed, he’s profoundly left-handed. He has trouble pledging allegiance with his left hand.”
Also on Saturday, point guard Jevon Thomas, a 2012 St. John’s commit, and uncommitted forward Ricardo Gathers of Louisiana competed and lost. The 6-8 Gathers was visiting St. John’s unofficially.
Looking ahead to the semis, Real Scout could potentially feature four St. John’s signees in Harkless, Sampson, Harrison and Pelle.
“Definitely Norvel, I don’t know about D’Angelo,” Sampson said. “That’s going to be fun, that’s going to be fun.”
Seton Hall signee Aaron Cosby had 18 points, including four 3-pointers, for Sean Bell, while Kansas-bound Naadir Tharpe added 15 points. Cincinnati-bound wing Jermaine Sanders poured in 32 for New Heights Joe Leone in the loss. Jeremiah Davis added 18…Uncommitted senior Terry Brutus had 15 for Real Scout in the win and will visit Iona Monday. Harvard-bound Max Hooper added 12 points for Real Scout. Towson commit Kelvin Amayo scored 10 in the loss for NIA…For the Panthers, Fordham-bound Jeff Short poured in 24 points and Mike Taylor scored nine points. Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd says he’s only spoken to Taylor once and there are no set plans for him to come to the school at this point.
**Mack wins battle of Rutgers guards at iS8
**Anderson likes Seton Hall, St. John’s
(Photo courtesy NY Post)
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.