Shamorie Ponds drops 32 in front of nearly 30 NBA scouts, St. John's will play for Legends Classic championship | Zagsblog
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Wednesday / August 12.
  • Shamorie Ponds drops 32 in front of nearly 30 NBA scouts, St. John’s will play for Legends Classic championship

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    NEW YORK — Nearly 30 NBA scouts were credentialed for the Legends Classic on Monday night, and boy did they see Shamorie Ponds put on a show.

    Ponds, who tested the NBA draft waters last spring before opting to return to campus for his junior season, went off for a game-best 32 points with 5 assists and 2 rebounds as St. John’s won an entertaining 82-79 affair over Cal in the Legends Classic. Ponds and the Johnnies will play VCU (4-0) for the title on Tuesday night at Barclays Center after the Rams beat Temple, 57-51.

    “He can really score from all three levels and is comfortable using both hands to handle and finish [which] helps with the diversity in his game,” one NBA scout in attendance said “He’s really fun to watch when he’s cooking like that.”

    NBA legend Julius Erving, former Cal and NBA star Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Knicks guard Allonzo Trier were among those on hand to watch Ponds’ performance.

    With St. John’s trailing 72-71, Ponds scored nine straight St. John’s points — including this 3-pointer shown below — to give the Johnnies an 80-76 lead. Marvin Clark II hit two foul shots in the final seconds for his team’s last points.

    “I just found a rhythm and Coach [Chris Mullin] just told me to keep going,” Ponds said. “I got hot, and I wanted to stay hot.”

    St. John’s was coming off an 84-64 beatdown of Rutgers on Friday in which Mustapha Heron was the man with 27 points and L.J. Figueroa had 23 Ponds managed just 8 points on 3-of-10 shooting.

    Mullin now has the luxury of having his own “Big Three,” any one of which could go off on a given night.

    “As far as our team goes, I’m happy with the way we regrouped and got the win,” Mullin said. “Shamorie caught fire — of course that sticks out — but we talk all the time about how numbers may change on any given night.”

    The 6-foot-1 Ponds worked out for several NBA teams last season before returning for his junior year. He’s currently projected as the No. 31 pick via ESPN.com.

    Asked what NBA personnel told him to work on, Ponds said, “Just stick to playing my game. Be myself, don’t change anything.”

    He added that NBA personnel told him to work on “consistency, shooting it better, just developing a play-making mentality.”

    Mullin said Ponds is trying to showcase his point guard skills a little more by getting others involved. He did dish five assists, but on this night he was the hot hand down the stretch and they rode him to the win.

    The Johnnies have NCAA Tournament goals, but they have a chance to win a November championship on Tuesday night.

    “Yeah, it would be nice,” Mullin said. “It’s nice to play in a high-stakes game early in the season against a good team. Yeah, so we’ll be jacked up.”

     

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    St. John’s assistant Matt Abdelmassih missed the game due to the birth of his son Shea Matthew.

    Earlier Monday, St. John’s landed a pledge from JUCO point guard Cameron Mack. For more, click here.

    Photo: St. John’s

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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.