Given everything going on around the NIA Prep program, Darrick Wood and his family felt it was best for him to make other plans for next season.
So the 6-foot-4 St. John’s-bound shooting guard will spend next season, his fifth year of high school, at Bridgton Academy in Maine instead of NIA.
“The St. John’s coaches and my mom were talking a long time about it because of the situation that happened [at NIA],” Wood said Friday by phone. “I’m supposedly leaving Sunday or Monday.”
Bridgton coach Whit Lesure confirmed that Wood, along with former Hofstra commit Malik Nichols, would play for him this year. Nichols is currently on campus.
“I hope [Wood] brings energy, talent and team play but I’ve never coached him a day in my life so that remains to be seen,” Lesure said by phone.
On Nichols, the former Boys & Girls star, Lesure said: “I think he brings versatility, athleticism, play-making and personality.”
The qualifying status of both players remains in question.
As first reported by SNY.tv last month, six NIA Prep athletes were declared ineligible by the NCAA, including four basketball players. The NCAA just denied Kelvin Amayo’s waiver request at Towson, and he will have to prop or go the JUCO route, the latter of which he said he doesn’t want to do. Amayo could end up back at NIA for a semester.
As far as Wood, one source close to the St. John’s staff said they believed Wood would be “fine on the academic front” because he came to NIA with a large number of core courses. Players need 16 cores and a high school degree to be eligible for college basketball.
Asked if he believed Wood can qualify for St. John’s, Lesure said, “That’s my understanding.”
Others weren’t so sure.
“It will be very, very difficult for him to qualify,” one local Division 1 assistant coach not connected to St. John’s said, adding that he doesn’t believe the NCAA will accept any courses from NIA going forward.
Still, Wood is looking forward to Bridgton. He said he wants to work on his strength and ball-handling next year before going to St. John’s in 2012.
“Once I work on those two I think it will put me over the top,” he said.
Asked about St. John’s potential during the 2012-13 season, when they also have power forward Ricardo Gathers of Louisiana coming in, Wood said, “I’m real exited. We’re gonna win a national championship.”
Wood’s AAU teammate, 6-8 point guard Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony, is also considering St. John’s along with Seton Hall, Georgetown, Florida and UCLA, but Wood says he’ll be happy for him wherever he goes.
“I’m working it but whatever decision he makes I’m gonna be happy with it,” he said. “He’s my boy and I’ll be happy for him.”
**Wood to St. JOhn’s
**NIA Prep athletes denied eligibility
**Towson’s Amayo denied NCAA waiverFollow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.