Bronx big Steven Solano on St. John's radar | Zagsblog
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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 / March 4.
  • Bronx big Steven Solano on St. John’s radar

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    By ZACH SMART

    As a towering 6-foot-11 and 240-pound behemoth with broomstick-long arms, Class of 2024 Cardinal Hayes Center Steven Solano is tasked with steering attackers clear of the driving lanes.

    As a rim-protection threat with the tool-set to emerge into a menacing shot-blocker this season, Solano has developed instincts and a timeliness with his ability to swat and alter the trajectory of shots.  Playing for Expressions Elite on the AAU circuit, Solano has had multiple games of double-digit blocks this season.

    “I feel like I mainly help the team as a defensive anchor,” said Solano, who has transitioned into a true fly swatter, turning in multiple games of double digit blocks.

    ”I feel I am the guy who is going to get those big blocks, those major stops.”

    Solano is stoked with confidence as he is set to backbone the last line of defense at Cardinal Hayes. The CHSAA-AA program returns a wealth of talent with North Carolina commit Ian Jackson, Syracuse commit Elijah Moore, and Washington State commit Adam Njie.

    Showing his improved mobility and footwork, Solano found himself soaring above the rim during the recent CHSAA June Team Camp. He added a recent offer from St. John’s to a growing list.

    “To get an offer from St. John’s, it’s special,” Solano said. “They have a great coach in Rick Pitino, a Hall of Fame coach. I’m grateful for the offer. With Coach Pitino, his strength really lies in player development. He helped develop Donovan Mitchell and helped get to that next level. He really teaches on how to get better every single day and that will help myself and anyone translate to the next level. I am planning on taking a visit soon. Possibly this Friday, or sometime this week.”

    Rhode Island, Loyola Chicago, Northern Illinois, and Virginia Tech have been on Solano the heaviest, as the Bronx native explained.

    One of the most promising performances from Solano this past season occurred during the Archdiocesan championship game, as he finished high lob passes, powered up inside, and helped Hayes come out of the gates sizzling.

    Behind 18 points and 12 assists from the aforementioned Jackson, Hayes ultimately cruised to a convincing 85-69 victory. Stepinac would avenge the loss in the Intersectional title, as five star 2024 point guard Boogie Fland scored a game-best 30 points en route to a 69-66 win.

    “We are looking forward to seeing them (Stepinac) again in the championship,” Solano explained. “Obviously we have big seniors coming back. Our role is really to step up as those team leaders now. We have to all mature into that role and take more responsibility and growth.”

    Helping nurture the development of Solano while improving his back-to-the-rim scoring arsenal and other components of his game has been Kenny Adeleke. A Brooklyn native, Adeleke played at Hartford and authored a 12-year professional career which included stops in the NBA, China, Ukraine, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, and elsewhere.

    “Kenny is just a person I look up to, a mentor,” Solano explained. “He has been pushing me every day and tells me what I need to do to get better every single day. I am finding out who I am as a player and my identity. It has been about perfecting the little things–footwork, speed, agility.”

    Stability has been a major factor in the uptick in recruitment for Solano. He spent time at Catholic High in Virginia Beach and then  Donda Academy, the Kanye West-backed prep program in Los Angeles. When Donda suddenly shut its doors down at the 11th hour last fall, Solano transferred back home and enrolled at Cardinal Hayes. The move has given him more structure and national visibility.

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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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