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.
While St. John’s prepares to play DePaul Wednesday in Chicago, head coach Steve Lavin is recruiting on the Bayou.
Lavin spent the past couple of days in the New Orleans area watching 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers and 2013 forwards Damien Jones and Jarell Martin (pictured).
Lavin hopes to sign five or six players in the Class of 2012 during the spring, and then add a few more in 2013, when it’s possible players on the current roster could be gone.
“He came down and watched a practice session and said he liked Jarell and was impressed,” Jeff Jones, head coach at Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep, told SNY.tv.
“He just kind of talked about the team that he has right now and even though they’re a little under-manned, they’re playing very hard and playing well for him. And of course he’s excited about the future.”
Martin, whom Jones previously compared to Kevin Durant and Tracy McGrady, is considering St. John’s, LSU, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma State, Louisville and others.
“There’s probably about 10 schools right now; he hasn’t really narrowed it down,” Jones said.
Jones said Martin may visit St. John’s sometime after the season.
“We’re looking to get a chance to come out and visit the campus and look at New York City,” Jones said.
Jones said Martin’s upside is sky-high.
“His upside is tremendous,” he said. “I really feel, and this is from different experts I’ve talked to, he has an opportunity to be a top 10 guy. He’s 6-9, can put it on the floor, has become a really good passer. He defends well. He knocks down the mid-range shot. He can score from all three levels — the 3-ball, the mid-range game and he can take a guy off the dribble and get to the rim.
“He does a great job rebounding. He’s a 13-, 14-rebound a game guy. He can score in a variety of ways.”
The 6-9 Damien Jones, out of Scotlandville High School in Baton Rouge, La., is being recruited by Oklahoma and Tulane and is also considering visiting St. John’s , he said by text.
“I love him,” said Bobby Sibley, editor of the Louisiana Basketball Report. “He’s about 6-9. Long, athletic. Good face-up game. Very skilled around the basket. I would say he’s a legit four. He’s athletic, can step out to 15 feet and hit that jumper. Great hands, great footwork.”
As for Gathers, Lavin stopped through Monday night to watch him put up 29 points and 18 rebounds in Reserve (La.) Riverside’s 85-75 loss to Salmen. His situation appears to remain status quo, with him considering St. John’s, Baylor, N.C. State and Florida.
“They got a lot of work to do right now,” Gathers told FiveStarBasketball.com of St. John’s. “But they are missing a lot of players right now. We’ll see who goes there next year and hopefully, I’m one of them but if not, best of luck to them.”
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.