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 got a big win and a big addition Wednesday night.
D’Angelo Harrison hit a clutch 3-pointer with 36 seconds left to help the Johnnies win, 66-61, avoiding an upset at the hands of Texas Pan-American.
Yet the bigger storyline was the arrival of freshman wing Amir Garrett, who was declared eligible Tuesday and then scored three points with two rebounds in 15 minutes. He played without having a full practice under his belt.
The Johnnies are now 1-0 in the Garrett Era, which as Jeff Goodman points out, is short of the 4-0 record UCLA has amassed in the post-Reeves Nelson Era.
“I didn’t think I was going to play as much as I did,” Garrett said. “The coaches said they were going to throw me in the fire, but they threw me completely in. I was surprised with how much I played, but it was good.”
Garrett was one of three St. John’s players declared ineligible in September, and the only member of the trio to remain committed to St. John’s.
The Johnnies had just six recruited scholarship players before Garrett’s arrival, so his presence should help them going forward.
After all, this team is just one bad injury to a key player away from a dire situation.
“They went through a lot, playing with six people,” Garrett said. “That’s going to be hard for any team. I don’t think any team has to deal with that besides us. I think I come and fit in well because I can come off the bench for the starters. I bring a lot of energy and play defense, so I can give whoever’s out a blow until they’re ready to come back in.”
Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who continues to run the show in Steve Lavin’s absence, said he felt it was important to put Garrett in the game just a few days after he left Bridgton (Maine) Academy.
“I would have played him; one, because he’s a talent, two, we needed the body,” Dunlap said.
“Three, Amir in and of himself, has sacrificed a lot to come in here. I wanted his first day of the honeymoon to be good for him. I wanted him to know that we appreciated the fact that he showed loyalty to our program, and he will never look at this moment like we short changed him. We had an opportunity to let him know we appreciated who he is and what he’s done for our program by showing loyalty in a tough situation.”
Garrett is anxious to get back on the court for the Big East schedule, which begins Dec. 27 against Providence.
“I think I’ll get the hang of things more at the Providence game because I’m going to be here working out, trying to get my wind up,” he said. “So by next game, I’ll be fine.”
***For more on St. John’s, read SNY.tv’s exclusive interview with Knicks point guard Baron Davishere.
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.