By CHRIS BARCA
NEW YORK-–The season may only be 10 games old for St. John’s, but the Big East Rookie of the Year award may already be Red Storm guard Shamorie Ponds’ to lose.
Coming off a career-high 25 points against Cal State Northridge on Monday, the Brooklyn product exploded for 26 points on just 9-of-13 shooting, while also notching nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals in the Johnnies’ 90-62 drubbing of Fordham at home on Thursday.
With starting point guard Marcus LoVett missing a second straight game with a sprained ankle, Ponds once again picked up the slack and then some for the Red Storm (5-5), burying seven of his 11 three-point attempts and turning the ball over just three times.
26 pts, nine assists, seven rebounds from Ponds. #SJUBB #Goodnight pic.twitter.com/NgThefNgW8— St. John’s BBall (@StJohnsBBall) December 9, 2016
The Thomas Jefferson alum, averaging 17.3 points per game, has now racked up 51 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds to just four turnovers in the two tilts without LoVett sharing the backcourt.
“With Marcus out, he’s really come through in incredible fashion,” St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin, a former Brooklyn high school star himself, said of Ponds.
When asked about the freshman’s seemingly speedy maturation process, Mullin said he couldn’t be happier with his development over the season’s first 10 games.
“I think he’s way ahead of schedule. I felt like Shamorie was the perfect guy for us,” the second year man said. “He’s a really smart kid and he’s also got really great instincts. I can play him all over the court and he’ll know what to do and how to make it work.”
Including Thursday’s win, Ponds has scored in double figures in nine straight contests, with the only exception being his eight-point against Bethune-Cookman in the season opener. The Fordham tilt was his fourth game of at least 21 points.
While Ponds’ immediate impact on both sides of the ball wasn’t necessarily a surprise to Mullin, he noted the freshman’s 44 percent success rate from beyond the arc this season is a “pleasant surprise.”
“One thing that does surprise me about him is how deep he can shoot,” he said. “He doesn’t look very strong but he really doesn’t need much space.”
A humble Ponds declined to talk about his performance after the game, saying that without his teammates, he would have had a much tougher time adjusting to college ball.
“It wouldn’t be possible without my teammates. They made me feel comfortable and they made me feel welcome,” Ponds said. “Without them, I don’t know how I would be doing.”
Sophomore guard Federico Mussini also lit up the scoreboard on Thursday, dropping 20 points on 7-9 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench, including four three-pointers.
Ponds and Mussini combined for 11 of the Red Storm’s 15 made threes, one shy of the school record.
It is unclear when LoVett, the third key cog in the Johnnies’ backcourt, will return to action, as Mullin did not say whether the redshirt freshman would play Sunday against LIU-Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.
“He’s day-to-day with the sprained ankle,” Mullin said. “He’ll get his treatment and wait for the doctor.”