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.
St. John’s Garrett Cleared, But Don’t Expect Miracles (UPDATED)
Amir Garrett has been cleared by the NCAA to join the St. John’s basketball team for Wednesday’s game against Texas-Pan American, but Johnnies fans shouldn’t expect miracles from the 6-foot-7 wing.
That, according to his prep school coach, Whit Lesure of Bridgton (Maine) Academy.
“It’s not as simple as running up and down the court and dunking the ball every time because at that level there’s people in your way,” Lesure told SNY.tv.
Still, the addition of Garrett is sorely needed for a team that currently has just six recruited scholarship players after point guard Nurideen Lindsey announce his transfer. The Johnnies played five guys for 20 minutes apiece in the first half of Saturday’s win over Fordham at Madison Square Garden while point guard Malik Stith sat for a half for a minor academic violation.
“The way he can help them is outside of the way that he thinks about himself,” Lesure added of Garrett.
“In addition to the high-energy guy that he typically is, you gotta become a defensive guy, a rebounding guy, a hard-running-the-floor guy.
“Those are the little things that most guys who were stars don’t get until you’re with other guys who are good.”
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. Pelle tweeted Tuesday that he hadn’t yet committed to another school.
“I didn’t commit to any schools the rumors r lies,” he said on his Twitter.
Meantime, Garrett, a two-sport star who was drafted in the 22nd round by the Cincinnati Reds and received a $1 million bonus, remained steadfast in his commitment to St. John’s.
“The fans have been supportive, they’ve been telling me to keep my head up,” Garrett said. “That’s what kept me going, kept me motivated. Coach [Steve] Lavin and the whole coaching staff has been supportive, they told me to keep my head up, not to give up, and I just kept the faith since day one.
“I just kept going forward to reach my goal to get [to St. John’s] and now I’m here so that’s all that matters. I owe a lot to the fans; they kept me going and motivated. It’s crazy to see that I’m finally here after all the stuff I’ve been going through. It’s just a blessing.”
Lavin, who returned to practice Tuesday after recruiting 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers and 2013 point guard Jaren Sina, among others, at the City of Palms Classic, said he was looking forward to having Garrett for the remainder of the season.
“We are pleased to welcome Amir to our Johnnies basketball family. We appreciate his unwavering commitment to the program we are building here at St. John’s,” said Lavin.
“Amir is a person of strong character and an outstanding basketball player. His length, explosiveness, quickness and highly-skilled game make him an ideal fit for our system of play. Amir was the most tenacious competitor that we evaluated in the 2011 recruiting class and his fierce will to win is going to be a critical asset as our team prepares for the Big East conference schedule.”
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.