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.
Jayon James’s long and winding road to college appears to have ended on a happy note.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound point guard from Paterson (N.J.) Catholic signed scholarship papers on Tuesday with Iona, where he will join a tremendous 2010 recruiting class.
“I signed today,” James, who goes to campus Aug. 23, said by phone. “It just felt like it was the perfect fit for me, the best situation at the moment.”
James becomes the second Paterson Catholic player to commit this week, and potentially the last ever from the storied program to go Division I. 6-9 forward Derrick Randall verbally committed to Rutgers Sunday. The program closed its doors in June.
James averaged 5.7 points, 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals on a team loaded with Division 1 talent.
Paterson Catholic coach Damon Wright said James, who can play the point-forward and point-guard spots, brings a high basketball IQ.
“He brings a competitive and winning spirit and is an overall student of the game,” Wright said. “The coaches are going to love his relentless attitude toward the game and he is a hell of a student in the classroom.”
James was an important cog on a Paterson Catholic team that was 28-0 and ranked No. 3 nationally this past season before falling to Bob Hurley’s St. Anthony team in the North Non-Public B finals at Rutgers.
James initially committed to Fordham in January, but changed his plans after the coaching change that brought in Tom Pecora.
Now, both he and former Fordham commit Sean Armand have followed former Fordham interim coach Jared Grasso to Iona. Grasso is an assistant under first-year coach Tim Cluess.
James is friendly with Armand and also knows many current Iona players, like Mike McFadden, Jermel Jenkins, Scott Machado and Rashon Dwight, all of whom played high school ball in the Garden State.
“I know those guys are going to be great teammates for myself,” he said.
Iona’s roster now includes players from Jersey powerhouses St. Patrick, St. Benedict’s, Paterson Catholic and Don Bosco.
“Jared was [also] a big factor,” James added. “He’s been recruiting me since my sophomore year when I got one of my first offers. He was a big factor in my decision.”
James initially intended to spend a prep year before attending college in 2011, but changed his mind.
“In the beginning of the summer, I felt I wanted to go to prep school,” he said. “As time went on, I felt college was the best fit for me.
“I probably made the decision about two weeks ago, but I just didn’t commit. I had it in my mind that I wanted to go to college.”
James will join arguably the best incoming recruiting class in the MAAC.
The Gaels already landed 6-6 former Seton Hall forward Mike Glover to go with Armand, 6-8 shooter Aleksander Kesic and 6-4 wing Randy DeZouvre.
James, meanwhile, may go down as a great trivia question: Who was the last Division 1 player to come out Paterson Catholic — the tradition-rich program that produced Tim Thomas, Kevin Freeman, Marquis Webb, Darryl Watkins, Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin?
PC closed in June due to financial reasons.
“I feel special to be one of the last ones to come from Paterson Catholic,” James said, “especially D-1.”
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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.