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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Half a Dozen NBA Scouts Expected for Monmouth-Iona
Half a dozen NBA scouts are expected at Iona Friday night for the big MAAC showdown between Monmouth (12-4) and Iona (9-6). The game is set for 9 p.m. on ESPNU.
All 30 NBA teams have scouted senior guard A.J. English, including the Knicks earlier this season.
English is a 6-foot-4 senior point guard who is averaging 23.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds despite missing five games last month with a dislocated finger on his left hand that required surgery on Dec. 14
As Josh Newman pointed out in the Asbury Park Press, the initial timetable for English called for him to miss 6-8 weeks, which would have amounted to a large chunk of the season and significantly hurt Iona’s postseason chances.
“The season was basically over,” English said. “Or by the time I got back, it would be a redshirt situation or something like that.”
Instead, English only had to miss 2-3 weeks.
“We thought it was going to be three or four games, to be fair, that he would start getting back into a groove again,” Iona coach Tim Cluess told Newman. “He showed some flashes (Friday night when he finished with 24 points and seven assists against Rider), but also showed some rust. Part of that is the personnel we have out there. He came back to a different team than when he left.
“We have different guys playing. Deyshonne Much isn’t here. It’s nice when you have Deyshonne one way, Isaiah (Williams) another and Jordan Washington inside. We have options, and teams are playing us differently because of that.”
English is the son of A.J. English II, an All-American at Virginia Union University and two-year NBA veteran with the Washington Bullets from 1990-92, where he averaged just under 10.0 points per game.
Monmouth junior guard Justin Robinson, who is listed at 5-foot-8, is averaging 20.1 points, 3.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds for a Hawks team that has caught the national imagination because of its bench antics.
On the court, Monmouth also has wins over Notre Dame, UCLA, USC, Georgetown and Rutgers thanks in part to Robinson, whose only Division 1 scholarship offer out of Kingston High School in Ulster County, N.Y.
“It makes you humble,” Robinson told the New York Times. “It makes you think. What, if an offer never came: But an offer did come, and thankfully, it landed me in the right spot with the right people.”
Those people at Monmouth are dreaming of dancing in the NCAA Tournament and are currently projected to get an at-large bid by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi (with Iona getting the league’s automatic bid out of the MAAC.)
Yet Monmouth coach King Rice, a former North Carolina point guard under the late Dean Smith, knows the best way to go dancing is to win the postseason tournament.
“The sure way to do it is to win the conference tournament,” Rice told the Times, “and that’s going to be a hard thing to get done because the league is very even.”
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.