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.
New York native Kareem Reid says Mike Anderson will recruit well and succeed at St. John’s
By ADAM ZAGORIAKareem Reid has unique insight into new St. John’s coach Mike Anderson.
As a player at New York City’s St. Raymond’s High School in the early 1990s, the 5-foot-10 Reid was recruited both by St. John’s coach Brian Mahoney and by Anderson, then an assistant for Nolan Richardson at Arkansas.
A McDonald’s All-American in 1994, Reid chose Arkansas over St. John’s (and Texas) and now believes Anderson has what it takes to succeed in the Big Apple.
“He’s a great guy,” Reid, 44, said Saturday morning by phone from Arkansas. “He came all the way from Arkansas to the streets of New York to come and get me. He was a great recruiter when he was an assistant on Coach Richardson’s national championship runs. He was the recruiter and the secret behind that.”
Under Richardson and his “Forty Minutes of Hell” defense, Arkansas won the NCAA title in 1994 and then lost in the ’95 title game to UCLA. Reid had to sit out the 94-95 season as a Prop-48 player, but then helped guide the Razorbacks to the Sweet 16 in 1996. He played overseas professionally after his college career.
Because Anderson followed a legend in Richardson as the coach at Arkansas, Reid believes he won’t have any trouble following Chris Mullin at St. John’s.
“He’s following [Lou] Carnesecca and Chris Mullin, he’s been here before,” Reid said. “He’s followed a legend with coach Richardson. By any means necessary, he’s going to get it done. When I say any means necessary, he’s one of them guys, not bad-mouthing anyone else, you’re not going to have to worry about coach getting into trouble.”
Reid said when news broke Thursday night Anderson was getting the job, he started getting phone calls himself asking if he was on Anderson’s staff.
“The whole New York tri-state area reached out to me,” Reid said. “Are you coming home? Are you coaching? You coming to help him?”
After Anderson was contacted by St. John’s AD Mike Cragg this week, Reid spoke Thursday with Anderson and told him he was ready to do whatever it takes to help make St. John’s great again, whether that meant joining the staff as a “grad assistant, towel boy, water boy. Let’s get St. John’s back.”
“It feels like I’m a part of St. John’s now because of my coach and the history that we have,” Reid said. “I told him anything he needs help with, recruiting or whatever. I know the kids, I know their parents, I played with their parents. I’m here for him.”
As far as staff, Anderson could opt to bring his former Arkansas assistants Melvin Watkins and T.J. Cleveland along, but he will need at least one New York City guy.
“He’s going to need a New York guy,” said Reid, who has lived in Arkansas for the last three years and got his degree from the University last year. “I told him, he needs Kareem Reid. I’m not saying I’m the best for the job, but I feel I could help him a lot with my New York ties and the people and families that I know and the connections that I have in New York.”
Another name that has been prominently mentioned is Andy Borman, the coach of the NY Rens AAU powerhouse and the nephew of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Cragg had talked with Mullin about potentially hiring Borman, and now Borman could be in the mix for Anderson’s staff. If he is hired, it might make sense to wait until after the July AAU period so Borman remains in contact with the top recruits through the spring and summer. Several Rens held offers from St. John’s under Mullin, including Class of 2021 star Jonathan Kuminga.
Whoever ends up being on staff, St. John’s can’t just rely on recruiting New York. In 1994, Reid was one of three McDonald’s All-Americans from the Big Apple, along with Felipe Lopez (the subject of an upcoming ESPN “30 for 30” documentary) and Zendon Hamilton, both of whom played at St. John’s.
“We don’t have that anymore in New York,” Reid said. “You’re not going to get three McDonald’s All-Americans.”
He added: “The team I was on [at Arkansas] we had Kansas City [players], we had Virginia, we had New York, we had Memphis, we had California, we had three Arkansas kids.”
The new staff will have to establish connections with top local high school coaches at Christ the King, Archbishop Stepinac, Bishop Loughlin, etc, (Joe Arbitello of Christ the King and Pat Massaroni of Stepinac were both at Anderson’s press conference on Friday) and AAU programs like the NY Rens, PSA Cardinals, NY Lightning, NJ Playaz and Albany City Rocks. But they will also have to recruit nationally. And given that Anderson want’s to press opponents “when they get off the bus,” he will need athletic, quick players in the fold.
“I want it to be known that we want the best players in our state,” Anderson said Friday. “We are going to build relationships and we are going to recruit players that fit what we are doing both on and off the floor. I think my resume speaks for itself, I think people have had the opportunity to watch me and watch my team’s development, but it all comes back to the relationship. I want to be open and have an opportunity to build some relationships. I want the best players to come to St. John’s. St. John’s is New York’s team.”
And Reid is ready to help his former coach bring St. John’s back.
“EYBL’s next week,” Reid said of the Nike EYBL stop in Atlanta, “and we need to get on the road.”
Photo: Courtesy Kareem Reid
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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.