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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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Sunday / February 25.
  • St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has already received nine gifts for next season.

    Will God’s Gift be next?

    Having landed nine recruits for the 2011-12 season, including 6-foot-2 IMG Academy guard Phil Greene, who committed Sunday while on an unofficial, the Johnnies still have two scholarships to give for next season.

    They are one of several schools involved with God’s Gift Achiuwa, 6-foot-8 power forward from Port Harcourt, River States, Nigeria, who competes at Erie Community College in Buffalo, N.Y. His father is a minister in his home country and gave him the unusual name.

    In his last three games, God’s Gift has put up 25 points and 19 rebounds, 25 and 10 and 32 and 15, respectively. His team has won 10 straight games and is ranked No. 3 nationally among Division II junior colleges.

    Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov made the stunning announcement Wednesday that the team has pulled out of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, potentially opening up room for the Knicks to land the Denver Nuggets star.

    “I’m not happy with the way … this deal has gone until now,” Prokhorov said. “It has taken too long. It has been played out in public and it certainly has taken a toll on the players and I believe that it has cost us several games. I think management did a great job, but there comes a time when the price is simply too expensive. I’m instructing our team to walk away from the deal.

    NEW YORK — Khem Birch was sitting in the front seat of a 2011 Dodge Journey alongside Notre Dame Prep coach Ryan Hurd Saturday afternoon as they traveled on I-95 to New York City.

    Hurd’s car was the first of three Notre Dame Prep vehicles taking the basketball team from Fitchburg, Mass., to face South Kent (Conn.) for a 3:30 tip-off at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College.

    All of a sudden, while they were in Norwalk, Conn., another vehicle cut across two lanes of traffic, causing an accident about six cars in front of them.

    Hurd managed to stop the car, only to be rear-ended, causing the Dodge to smash into the car in front of them.

    “We just crashed,” said the 6-foot-9, 210-pound Birch, a Montreal native. “It was scary. Everything went through my mind. I don’t even know what happened. I was scared.”

    2011 DePaul commit Braeden Anderson says Cal is now the top choice for his new destination after signing his release papers.

    “Cal is the favorite, I would say,” the 6-foot-8 forward told Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com. “I have a good friend on the team, my fellow Canadian, Emerson Murray. They have really nice facilities, great academics and it wouldn’t hurt living in California.”

    If this is a “down” year for the Big East, you can only stop and shake your head at the prospect of what an “up” year might look like.

    When the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll was released Monday, a record-tying nine Big East teams were ranked.

    Four programs — No. 3 Syracuse, No. 5 Pitt, No. 7 Villanova and No. 8 UConn — placed in the Top 10.

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