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.
Fordham Lands Guard Duo of James, Armand; Florida After Kadeem Jack
Fordham interim coach Jared Grasso continues to reel in recruits.
Grasso landed a double-dip of guards Monday night when Jayon James, a 6-foot-5 guard from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic, and 6-2 guard Sean Armand, a Brooklyn native spending a postgrad year at Central Jersey Each One Teach One (CJEOTO) in Jersey, both orally committed to the Rams.
“I feel I had the best relationship wth Coach Grasso and the players that’s already there,” said James, who comes off the bench for the No. 9 team in the PrepNation.com poll. “I’ve been keeping in contact with them the most out of any other schools that I had.”Grasso has been recruiting James since he was in the eighth grade and it paid off. A regular at the Reebok All-American Camp every July in Philadelphia, James said he chose Fordham over interest from La Salle, Rice, Canisius and Ivy League schools Columbia, Brown and Harvard.A tall, cerebral guard who has battled weight issues in the past but has slimmed down to 225 pounds, James could play a point forward position for Fordham, currently 2-10 on the season.“He said I would be the point forward,” James said of Grasso. I would be the playmaker, get everybody on my team better.”Fordham already features former PC guard Lance Brown, and that factored into James’ decision.“He’s like a big brother ever since I came to PC,” James said. “And I also know [Fordham freshman] Chris Gaston.”PC coach Damon Wright said he was very happy for James, and that Fordham was landing a very smart, talented player.“He’s going to defend, he’s going to be a point forward, he’s going to be a winner,” Wright said. “He’s going to be a player that brings a lot of IQ to the team.”
PC has cracked the Top 10 in several national polls after winning the City of Palms Classic in Florida, beating Austin Rivers and Winter Park (Fla.) in the final. Since then, the Cougars beat Huntington (West Va.) Prep in West Virginia and St. Peter’s Prep in Teaneck on Sunday.“It’s been pretty exciting,” James said. “We were never able to be in the Top 10 in any of the polls. To win all these independent games is great so far. It’s good to beat some of these best teams in the country.”James will be joined at Fordham next year by Armand, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound combo guard from Brooklyn who also orally committed Monday.
“Yes, five minutes ago,” Armand, pictured at left courtesy Jay Gomes, NJHoops.com, said by phone.
Armand said he had interest from La Salle, St. Joe’s, Rutgers, Arkon and Houston. St. Bonaventure also offered.
“I was about to go visit Houston,” he said.
Armand said he developed a close bond with Grasso and assistant Steve Trefilletti.
“I was close to him,” he said of Trefilletti. “The way I way I felt about my high school coach, that’s the way I feel with him.”
Armand averaged over 25 points and 12 rebounds as a junior at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School in Manhattan and then dropped 44 points in one game there last season.
Josh Hoffman, Armand’s AAU coach with the New Jersey Trail Blazers, said Fordham is getting a steal.
“He can flat out score the ball,” Hoffman said. “He’s got NBA range on the jumper, can go to the hoop. He’s quick. He’s a high-character young man who will work his tail off and play defense and score. He’s under the radar, played at a no-name New York high school.”
“If he played for the New York Gauchos or the New Jersey Playaz, everyone in the nation would know who he was.”
Armand said he’s aware that Grasso is an interim coach and feels confident in his decision.
“I trust Coach Grasso and what he told me about the situation,” Armand said. “That he’s confident that he’s going to have his job. I’m going to take his word.
“He was loyal to me. I’m loyal to him.”
Added Hoffman: “If Sean were my son I would feel comfortable sending him to play for Jared. They made him feel comfortable.”
FLORIDA AFTER KADEEM JACKRice coach Maurice Hicks said Florida coach Billy Donovan and assistant Rob Lanier will be up this week to visit 6-8 senior forward Kadeem Jack (pictured courtesy NewYorkGauchos.com).
“Everybody’s coming,” Hicks said. “Billy Donovan is coming in this week.”
Jack holds offers from St. John’s, Seton Hall, Florida and Arizona, and Florida International coach Isiah Thomas has called, Hicks said.
“He has no favorite right now,” Hicks said. “He’s not going to do anything until late.”
Jack and teammates Shane Southwell, who committed to Kansas State on SNY.tv, and junior wing Jermaine Sanders, who has interest from several Big East schools, will play in the SNY Invitational Jan. 29-30 at NYU.
“He’s a high-major player,” Hicks said of Jack. “He’s really developed into a power player. He just turned 17. His upside is great. I think he can be a high-major four or five.”
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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.