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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.
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Tuesday / September 25.
  • A.J. Griffin, R.J. Davis drawing a parade of coaches to Archbishop Stepinac

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — During an open gym Thursday afternoon at Archbishop Stepinac High School, A.J. Griffin dribbled up court, spun around a defender above the foul line and drained a 12-foot jumper.

    As a half dozen Division 1 head and assistant coaches sat watching on the sideline, one said to me, “He could help us right now.”

    The 6-foot-7, 196-pound Griffin is only a sophomore but he and teammate R.J. Davis, a Class of 2020 point guard, are already drawing a parade of coaches to Stepinac, the reigning New York State Federation champs. And assuming both players stay there until graduation, that will be the case for the next couple of years.

    “At the age he’s at, his skillset, his mindset is definitely more mature than what his actual age puts him at,” Stepinac coach Pat Massaroni said of Griffin, who looks like a man among boys already. “He has unbelievable upside. To be skilled as he is, not only shooting the ball at the two, but being able to back guys down, finish at the rim,, defend, rebound, deflect passes, he’s got high-major, pro-level upside.”

    Griffin is the son of former Seton Hall star and current Toronto Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, so he already knows a little about pro-level upside.

    “When I was young, he taught me the little things, the fundamentals of the game, so he taught me how to shoot correctly and all that,” said Griffin, who likes to model his game after LeBron James and Collin Sexton.

    On the recruiting front, Griffin holds offers from St. John’s, Seton Hall, Providence, Maryland, Illinois, Manhattan and St. Louis.

    “It feels good knowing they’re coming to watch me,” Griffin said as GW head coach Maurice Joseph, Yale’s James Jones and assistants from Rutgers, Providence and LIU-Brooklyn were among those on the sideline.

    “Knowing that I’m so young, they believe in me,” Griffin said of schools that have offered and shown interest.

    He has also drawn interest from Villanova, Louisville and Stanford, among others. Both schools are expected to see him this month.

    “Villanova came in after our season last year for those two days in the live period,” Massaroni said.

    As for Seton Hall, Griffin said, “They already know my dad so we already have this good connection. They know that my dad knew I was going to be great because of my dad.”

    Davis, meantime, holds offers from Yale, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Maryland, Illinois, Manhattan, VCU, George Washington, La Salle, Marist, Saint Louis and Fordham, with interest from UConn, Georgetown, Ohio State Virginia and Harvard. He has visited VCU, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Maryland and GW.

    “GW is the school that’s recruiting me the hardest, they check in daily or once a week to make sure I’m good, make sure my family’s good,” Davis said.

    He added: “Schools that have been recruiting me have been very honest and showing love to me and recruiting me very well.”

    Davis projects as a scoring pure point guard at the next level.

    “R.J.’s a floor general for us, true point guard who can really score it,” Massaroni said. “He averaged 20 and 7 for us as a sophomore. He’s a 1,000-point scorer. He just has the ability to see the floor and get guys involved, and has the abilty to make big shots. He’s clutch at the free throw line. He’s just a winner.”

    With Stepinac having lost three starters from last year’s championship team, both Griffin and Davis will have to play more of a leadership role with younger players this year, something they’re ready to do.

    “Just to bring the team back to a championship team,” Davis said. “We have some new guys coming in so we just want to show them around and get them to the same energy level that we were last year.

    “With us veterans, we have the same mindset and maturity level to bring this team to another championship.”

    Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News

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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.