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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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Tuesday / May 21.
  • Mark Taylor, the first-year coach at St. Benedict’s Prep, continues to stockpile talent as he attempts to return the Gray Bees to national prominence.

    Melvin Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound rising senior wing will come to the Newark school from Rice High School, as will his former Rice teammate Dashawn Smith, a 6-2 senior guard.

    “He verbally committed,” Taylor said of Johnson. “They’re going through the admissions process but he will be admitted because of the Rice situation. All the boys from Rice will be considered, whether they play basketball or not. We’re going to help Rice out anyway we can.”

    Rice High will likely close, forcing its students to transfer.

    Johnson scored 29 points Sunday in the final of the HoopGroup Summer Showcase in which St. Benedict’s beat Teaneck, 82-73.

    GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Jeremy Tyler is just two and a half years removed from a showdown with Jared Sullinger.

    The two highly touted big men were high school juniors when they met in the Flyin’ to the Hoop showcase event in Dayton, Ohio in January 2009.

    Sullinger’s team, Columbus (Ohio) Northland, won the game, but Tyler, then at San Diego High, held his own with what DraftExpress.com called “a gorgeous skill set both from the perimeter and in the low post.”

    “Go look at his body, go look at his athleticism and then look at Sullinger’s athleticism,” Sonny Vaccaro, the grassroots sneaker guru who has advised the 6-foot-11 Tyler, said in a phone interview. “Sullinger isn’t as big as he’s portrayed to be. I’m saying [Tyler] is as good as these people.”

    St. John’s signee Amir Garrett may be selected in today’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, but he says he will still play basketball.

    “Naw I’m still playin its hard to explain but yeah I’m still hoopin,” Garrett Tweeted early Tuesday.

    He added that he’s “not playing baseball at St. John’s.”

    The 6-foot-5 left-hander from California has been clocked throwing the baseball in the mid-90s and has drawn interest from MLB scouts.

    Garrett told SI.com that baseball was his “first love” and his father, Darryl, described Amir to the site as “a baseball player who plays basketball.”

    Knicks fans can relax.

    The long shadow of Isiah Thomas apparently no longer hangs over the team.

    Thomas has reportedly removed himself from consideration to succeed Donnie Walsh as team president, and endorsed interim president Glen Grunwald.

    “I love Glen, he’s one of my favorite people on Earth,” Thomas said on the Ian O’Connor radio show on ESPN Radio. “He’s very competent, extremely smart, loyal to winning. He’s always done a good job wherever he’s been. He’s qualified, capable and extremely smart.

    Duke’s Nolan Smith and Butler’s Shelvin Mack matched up twice during their college careers.

    Smith and the Blue Devils came out on top on both occasions, once in the 2010 NCAA championship game and again earlier this season during a game at the Izod Center in New Jersey.

    “He beat me twice, but I think I got him today,” Mack said after the two matched up during three-on-three drills in a workout with the Knicks that was closed to the media.

    The Knicks have had mixed success with European draft picks.

    In 2008, the ‘Bockers drafted Danilo Gallinari with the No. 6 pick and Gallo turned into a solid contributor to their ascent over the past several years before being dealt as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal.

    But before Gallo, there were European flameouts Maciej Lampe, Slavko Vranes (both 2003 second-rounders) and Milos Vujanic (2002 second-round), to say nothing of the Frederic Weis disaster in 1999.

    Yet the Knicks could dip back into the overseas pool during this year’s NBA Draft on June 23 when four of the Top 10 picks, and five of the Top 17, are projected to be foreigners by DraftExpress.com.


    NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Cardozo coach Ron Naclerio has worked with Darryl Hill, Rafer Alston and Duane Causwell, but he says Jermaine Lawrence could be as good as any of his former protégés.

    The 6-foot-8 Lawrence, a rising junior at Cardozo in Queens, made his presence felt Sunday at the Iona team camp in an early-round victory over Baldwin High, defending on one end and dunking on the other. Still raw, Lawrence’s potential is untapped.

    “Jermaine’s potential is as good as anybody that I have ever had here at Cardozo,” Naclerio said. “He has the three qualities that make up a great basketball talent. He has size, and according to his mother, she expects him to grow even more over the next two years. He has athleticism, and he can really shoot the ball.

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