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.
NEW YORK — Just hours after landing on New York soil, St. John’s recruit D’Angelo Harrison – fueled with adrenaline – poured in a game-high 23 points to lead Real Scout to an exciting 84-78 semifinal victory over the Playaz Saturday afternoon in front of a jam-packed crowd at the iS8/Nike Spring Classic
“D’Angelo arrived here late last night and paid his own money to get out here,” said Real Scout head coach Nate Blue. “He didn’t come out here to win one game. He came out here to win a championship with his future teammates.”
With the victory, Real Scout advanced to Sunday’s championship game against the Sean Bell All Stars, a 73-56 victor over New Heights (Artie) in the day’s second semifinal.
Just last month while playing at an event in Houston, Harrison guaranteed a Final Four for St. John’s in 2012.
Leading 80-78 with 36 seconds remaining, the 6-foot-3 Harrison pick-pocketed future Big East rival Myles Mack (Rutgers) at center court and was subsequently fouled on the other end. He calmly sank the two free throws, and extended Real Scout’s lead, which they would never relinquish.
“I knew that we needed a stop,” said Harrison. “So I dug in and had two steals in the final minute to help us win.”
Harrison’s energy was quite noticeable throughout the second half, as he not only dove for loose balls and battled with his bigger frontcourt opponents for rebounds (10 boards, five offensive ).
He also wasn’t afraid to jaw at the opponent’s bench, a tactic which caused his future collegiate teammate chuckle after the game.
“I know D’Angelo for a while,” said 6-foot-9 forward JaKarr Sampson, who added 17 points and eight rebounds. “He’s like a little bully out there.”
Sampson, who himself relished the opportunity to battle North Carolina recruit Desmond Hubert (eight points) in the post, was elated at the chance to play alongside future teammates Harrison and Maurice Harkless.
Harkless finished with five points while playing through a right ankle injury.
“It was quite funny playing with them,” said Sampson. “We have a pretty good bond now and it makes it so much easier playing with them in the future.
New Rochelle’s P.J. Torres (Duquesne) added 12 points, while Iowa State signee Tavon Sledge chipped in with 10 points in the victory.
“There was a lot of emotion out there,” Blue said. “And even though we are still in May, it was great to see the kids play hard and compete.”
Mack, who led all scorers with 28 points, rallied his team from a 12-point deficit (33-21) midway through the second quarter to grab a 46-44 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But a long trey by Harrison (3-for-9 from distance) from the right wing and two driving hoops by Sampson and Torres, respectively, gave Real Scout an advantage that they would never surrender.
Jabril Trawick (Georgetown) and Charles Oliver (Rider) added 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the loss.
Uncommitted junior Ricardo Ledo led four All-Stars in double-figures with 15 points. Pittsburgh recruit Khem Birch added 14, while Grandy Glaze and Arthur Edwards, both uncommitted, chipped in with 12 and 10 respectively.
The All-Stars led 31-19 after one, and built the lead to 20 at 58-38 late in the third quarter, driving past the New Heights defenders with countless transition baskets.
Arizona commit Sidiki Johnson led New Heights with 16 points, while Darrel Lucky of Paul Robeson High added 11.
LEDO HAS LIST
Ledo, who decommitted to Providence in January, has not scheduled any new visits as of yet, but he does have his share of interests.
“I am looking at Kentucky, Providence, Syracuse and UConn,” said Ledo, who compares his game to Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“It’s a good process and I am opening it up to see other schools. We will see where it goes from here.”
**St. John’s signees repping big at iS8
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.