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.
UNION, N.J. — Even from as far away as Henderson, Nev., Amir Garrett has his eye on St. John’s.
Garrett watched the Johnnies blow out Duke at Madison Square Garden.
He saw them hammer UConn on national television.
And he’s kept up with their recent road wins over Cincinnati and Marquette.
“Oh yeah, I watched them, man. I was hyped,” the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Garrett said Sunday before scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 rebounds in Findlay Prep’s 76-50 victory over Newark East Side in the PrimeTime Shootout at Kean University.
“I was so loud. I was rooting for them all the way. I’m happy for them this year. I just want to do the same thing next year.”
Garrett is averaging 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field for Findlay (25-3), the two-time ESPN Rise National High School Invitational champs.
“I can play point, one, two, three, it doesn’t matter,” said Garrett, a natural wing who chose St. John’s over Oregon. “It doesn’t matter, whatever they need me.”
Findlay assistant Todd Simon says Garrett’s ceiling is very high.
“Amir is just scratching the surface,” Simon said. “This is the first year that he’s completely dedicated to basketball. Obviously, he’s a phenomenal baseball player.
“But he’s a late bloomer where he’s really come on the scene and I don’t know if he’s even scratched the ceiling of where he could be because of his ability to play multiple positions. He’s got up more shots this year than he probably ever has in his life and worked on his handle. He comes to the gym every day to work, so that’s big.”
A left-handed pitcher who throws in the 90s, Garrett said he’s also considering playing baseball at St. John’s.
“Maybe, we’ll see,” he said. “Right now, I’m not really sure. I’m just weighing all my options, so it’s all right.”
Garrett is part of head coach Steve Lavin’s nine-man recruiting class for 2011 that is ranked No. 2 nationally.
“Amir Garrett is a special talent,” Lavin said when Garrett signed. “His length, explosiveness, quickness, and highly-skilled game make him an ideal fit for our system of play. Amir was clearly the most tenacious prospect that we evaluated in the 2011 recruiting class and his highly competitive nature will be critical as we build our program.”
Garrett has been in touch with fellow commits Maurice Harkless of Queens, D’Angelo Harrison of Texas and Phil Greene of Chicago.
“We’re trying to get a connection because all of us being freshmen we’re trying to get that bond going early,” Garrett said.
Entering Saturday’s Big East game with No. 4 Pittsburgh, St. John’s is 16-9, 8-5 in the Big East. Jerry Palm of CollegeRPI.com projects the Johnnies as a No. 6 seed in the Big Dance.
St. John’s hasn’t been to the NCAAs since 2002.
“Man, that would be crazy,” Garrett said of the Johnnies potentially making the tournament. “It would be big momentum for us going in there next year. We have a lot of weight to carry.”
Garrett said he plans to come to Queens over the summer to enjoy the “college atmosphere” and adjust to the next level.
“Man, I can’t wait,” he said. “I want to go now, to be honest. They’re on a roll, so I’m very excited [to] come in next year and win some games.”
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.