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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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Monday / April 22.
  • Iona’s A.J. English is Latest Gael With NBA Potential

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    AJ ENglishEvery year Iona College churns out at least one player with NBA potential.

    For four years running from 2012-15, the up-tempo Gaels placed a player in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational: Mike Glover (2012), Lamont “Momo” Jones (2013), Sean Armand (2014) and David Laury (2015). Temple is the only other college team in the nation that can match that four-year run.

    None of those players are currently on an NBA roster. Neither is Scott Machado, a former star point guard at Iona who attended the Chicago Pre-Draft Combine but not Portsmouth, and is currently playing in Germany.

    Next up for the Gaels is A.J. English, a 6-foot-4 senior point guard who averaged 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists for a team that lost to Manhattan in the MAAC Championship game and then fell to Rhode Island in the first round of the NIT.

    “Going to the NBA isn’t important to me,” English told SNY.tv last season.  “Winning is more important to me, making sure my guys are contending for a national title.”

    English is not currently projected to be drafted according to DraftExpress.com, which lists him as the No. 57-ranked senior in the nation. Yet with a strong senior campaign — the Gaels open the season Nov. 15 at Valparaiso, and then visit Oregon State Nov. 17 — English could help his stock with NBA decision-makers.

    “I expect him to have a great year,” one NBA scout said.

    “If he plays well, first round,” a second scout said. “Right now, he is on many boards as a second-rounder preseason.”

    Still other experts think English could end up having a solid career in Europe, where several of the aforementioned Gaels are currently playing.

    Jared Grasso, Iona’s associate head coach who appeared Friday on The 4 Quarters Podcast, says English will definitely get examined closely this year.

    “In the last 12-15 months, probably every NBA team has been in to see him,” Grasso said. “He was out at adidas Nations this summer, so he was seen by every NBA organization. We spoke to everybody this fall and they were all planning on coming in to see him practice or play in games this year.”

    Iona plays an up-tempo offense where head coach Tim Cluess encourages his players to shoot early in the shot clock, and to hoist a ton of 3-pointers. Players tend to like that style of play, and now English will have a chance to become an NBA player as a result.

    “I think NBA guys see our style of play and see the way we develop our guys and I think A.J’.s put himself in a position to have the opportunity, and it’s a credit to him. But he epitomizes our culture and what we push as our work ethic,” Grasso said. “We’ll practice for three hours or we’ll do an hour individual workout, and he’s in the gym at 11, 12 o’clock at night getting shots up every single day. When he got here he was bench-pressing 185 pounds, now he’s bench-pressing 320 pounds. For his work ethic, it’s taken his game to another level. And I think he’s a kid who’s focused and has the ability to be an NBA player.”

     

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    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.

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