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.
Davontay Grace has pulled the trigger and is headed to the Big East.
A 6-foot-1, 205-pound junior point guard from Brooklyn Thomas Jefferson, Grace orally committed to St. John’s Friday night and can sign with the school in November.
Grace is a tough and compact point guard reminiscent of a young Levance Fields, the former Brooklyn star who played at Pitt. He is currently averaging 10.5 points and 9.8 assists for Jefferson (5-1), which is tied for first place in the PSAL Brooklyn AA division.
He chose St. John’s over Providence, Marquette and Hofstra.
“He made his mind up in Puerto Rico over the Christmas break,” said Jefferson coach Lawrence Pollard, referring to the Puerto Rico Hoops Classic where Grace had 16 points in a quarterfinal win over Sagrado Corazon. “He committed [Friday] night. [St. John’s coach] Norm [Roberts] called him last night and he made it official. He called me and told me. He had his mind made up, that’s where he wanted to go.”
Grace said he’s looking forward to playing in the Big East and helping the Johnnies turn it around.
“They are a great coaching staff,” Grace said. “They took their time and made me their No. 1 guy.”
“I just like the whole thing,” he added. “It’s a great place to get an education. It’s close to home. I get a chance to play against the UConns and Louisvilles and stuff like that. I’m going to come in and be able to contribute to winning right away.”
St. John’s has a slew of juniors on its roster and will need to recruit a huge class for 2011. Grace said he’s working on bringing some other players along with him, including Lincoln star Kamari Murphy.
“Definitely,” he said. “I have quite a few relationships wth some of the top players in the country and the city, so I’m going to be on it. There’s a few. Kamari Murphy, I’m going to try to get to come with me, a few others.”
St. John’s currently has junior Malik Boothe as its starting point guard, meaning Boothe will be gone when Grace comes to campus.
“When Malik leaves, they’ll be needing somebody like Davontay to come in and fill his shoes for Malik,” Pollard said.
Grace said Roberts didn’t promise him a starting spot but he knows he can work his way into the rotation and play both guard spots.
“He didn’t say I’m going to start,” Grace said of Roberts. “Even if I don’t I’m going to work my way. Eventually I know what going I’m going to do.”
Grace reinjured his right ankle Dec. 13 against Loughlin after spraining it over the summer, but said he’s feeling better now.
“I’m coming along,” he said. “I’m faster than I was in Puerto Rico so my ankle is a little sore still but it’s good.”
New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski said the injuries hampered Grace’s conditioning but that he can definitely help St. John’s.
“The thing with him is his conditioning,” Konchalski said. “A year ago, he was playing as well as any sophomore you can find anywhere but what happened last year was he had some nagging ankle injuries. He put some weight back on.
“But he can really score and he can get to the basket. He’s strong. He’s sort of a John Bagley-type player. He can get to the basket, he can finish plays. He’s somewhat of an erratic 3-point shooter but he must be guarded out past the arc. He has an inner-city toughness to him that St. John’s needs.”
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.