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 HAVEN, Conn. — Amir Garrett says he plans to join the St. John’s basketball team at the semester break in December and he can’t wait to get there.
“I gotta finish out this semester and submit my classes and I should be good,” Garrett said after putting up 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in Bridgton (Maine) Academy’s 90-86 loss to Hargrave (Va.) Military at the National Prep Showcase at Albertus Magnus College.
As he told SNY.tv earlier this week, Bridgton coach Whit Lesure said there was still some work to do but he expects Garrett to be ready in December.
“When kids are getting cleared through the NCAA, to say that anything’s ever done or official is ludicrous until the University and the NCAA have declared that it’s official,” Lesure said.
“But based on what the NCAA keeps looking at, based on what Amir is doing, based on feedback from St. John’s, I’d say yeah, it’s going to be done. He’s on track and there’s no question about that.”
Garrett was one of three St. John’s commits declared academically ineligible in September. The other two — JaKarr Sampson and Norvel Pelle — have since decommitted, but Sampson could still end up in Queens in 2012.
Garrett saw the Johnnies lose a tough game to Texas A&M Friday at Madison Square Garden, 58-57, when Nurideen Lindsey missed two foul shots in the final seconds.
“They did [lose a tough one], but they’ll bounce back,” Garrett said.
He said he’s anxious to join his future teammates.
“Oh, yeah. yeah, yeah, I’m very anxious,” he said. “I can’t wait to get there.”
The 6-7 Garrett is long and athletic and showed some tremendous athleticism against Hargrave, going the length of the floor with the ball for a layup after grabbing a defensive rebound on one play.
He crashed the boards hard and had an impressive block in the lane.
“I bring energy,” he said. “I can rebound from my position. I can hold my own. I play hard.”
Garrett said he wants to improve his outside shot and his passing.
“I’m trying to be able to get more assists because I’m going to get in the lane and be able to pass to my teammates for an open shot,” he said.
Added Lesure: “He’s ultra-competitive, high-energy guy. Really lively. The way I see them [St. JOhn’s] playing, using the fullcourt and covering space and spreading people out, I think that he fits perfectly.
“I think in the Big East you need people who can put the ball in the basket so it’s really ultimately his skills. He’s the prototype, but it’s a skill development issue to make sure they are playing with five people that can threaten the defense.”
Garrett said he and Bridgton teammate Darrick Wood — who had 17 points, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc — constantly talk about playing together in college. Wood has committed for 2012 but has yet to sign an NLI due to some ongoing paperwork issues related to his time at NIA Prep.
“We always talk about that,” Garrett said. “We just go to practice. We act like we’re in the game in practice, like St. John’s. Just like we’re on the court already.”
Whisure called the 6-4 Wood a “John Starks clone, kind of frickin’ wild dude.”
“He’s gotta then channel all of that into his defense,” he added. “Right now he would not get on the floor in the Big East because he won’t guard at that level. So he’s got to value defense as much as offense.”
Lesure would also like Wood to get “bigger, stronger, initiate contact, finish plays. Don’t look to the referees.
“And then continue to take 1,000 jump shots a day so that you’re lights out,” he added. “He’s streaky good, instant offense and all that but now can you be reliable, Reggie Miller good.”
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.