Tag:St. John's
Posted on: June 14, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 1:06 pm

Dwayne Polee II headed to San Diego State

By Matt Norlander

Dwayne Polee II's going from one coast to the other. The St. John's freshman became a San Diego State sophomore Monday, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune he is transferring to Steve Fisher's program.

“Coach Fisher is a great coach, and he has a lot of experience at the top of college basketball and I think he can help get me to the next level,” Polee told the Union-Tribune by phone. “I just like the way he allows all his players to play their game. He doesn’t really hold them back.”

Is that a veiled swipe at Red Storm coach Steve Lavin? No. Polee II is heading back home because his mom is ill, Dwyane Polee, Sr. told the Union-Tribune. Polee II was the only non-senior to earn valuable playing time with St. John's in 2010-11; the Red Storm had nine seniors. With those guys leaving -- and a rebuilding job coming for Lavin and Co. -- Polee II would have certainly seen many more valuable minutes in the year ahead. But the California native wanted to be closer to home.

San Diego State is also in a bit of a rebuilding mode, something that's bound to happen after a program wins its first NCAA tournament game in program history -- and does it as a No. 2 seed. But in the wake of losing sophomore and second-team eam all-america Kawhi Leonard to the NBA Draft, as well as seniors Billy White, Malcolm Thomas and D.J. Gay, Fisher's been able to keep the team viable going forward. Hehe also brought in 6-7 J.J. O'Brien, a transfer from Utah.

Polee II will sign a financial-aid agreement, which locks the school into him -- but doesn't go both ways. If, for some reasons, circumstances dictate Polee II can't continue with his committment to SDSU, he can walk away without penalty. That's not likely to happen.

The newest Aztec will also apply for a hardship waiver, meaning he's hoping to bypass the one-year sit-out rule that most transfers endure. It's likely Polee II will receive approval from the NCAA, meaning he won't play for the Aztecs until the 2012-13 season, when he'll have three years of eligibility remaining.

Photo: AP
Posted on: June 8, 2011 12:41 pm

St. John's basketball signee will play two sports

Posted by Jeff Borzello

When Amir Garrett first burst onto the basketball scene in high school, the caveat that he also played baseball was always a factor. After all, he’s 6-foot-5 lefty, throws in the 90s and had baseball offers from schools like Loyola Marymount.

When he enrolled at basketball powerhouse Findlay Prep last fall, the baseball dream seemed to be over. Garrett eventually signed to play basketball at St. John’s and ended up as a top-75 recruit.

Last month, though, Garrett apparently worked out in front of a number of MLB scouts at the College of South Nevada and was impressive, according to SI.com’s Luke Winn. He reached 96 miles-per-hour on his fastball, which is even more eye-popping when you throw in the fact Garrett hadn’t thrown in a game since the USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars in June 2010.

“It was absolutely the most bananas thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond,” College of Southern Nevada pitching coach Nick Aiello told Jeff Eisenberg of The Dagger.

On Tuesday, Garrett was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22<sup>nd</sup> round, with pick No. 685.

All along, most people thought Garrett might choose one or the other, basketball or baseball. Now, it looks like he’s going to try both.

“If he went high, it would have been one or the other,” Darrow Garrett, Amir’s father, told David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We love Steve Lavin, and I told everyone it would have taken a lot to just walk away from him. This way he can still play basketball at St. John’s and do the things he wants to be able to do.”

Garrett will play professional baseball in the Reds’ organization in the summers, and will suit for the Red Storm during the basketball season.

“Baseball is my first love,” Garrett said. “I put it on hold for a little bit, but I always had it in me.”

Based on potential, Garrett could have a more prosperous future playing baseball. Drawing comparisons to Tampa Bay Rays’ star David Price, his combination of size and velocity is not matched by many people in baseball.

As Aiello told Winn, Garrett is more likely to get noticed in baseball.

“There might be 100 players in the NCAA and NBA that can match his size and athleticism, whereas there might be five in the whole country in baseball,” he said. “I think he realizes that when he gets off the bus in A-ball, there won’t be anybody who looks like him."

Photo: ICON SMI 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 22, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 1:45 pm

St. John's forward Dwayne Polee transferring home

Posted by Jeff Borzello

With at least nine newcomers in the fold next season, St. John’s needed as many veterans as possible.

The Red Storm are now down to just one returnee – backup point guard Malik Stith – with head coach Steve Lavin announcing Sunday that rising sophomore forward Dwayne Polee will transfer.

“I really enjoyed my experience at St. John’s and I’m going to miss the staff and New York,” Polee said in a statement. “Right now I feel it is best to be close to my family and help us get through a health issue.”

Polee, a 6-foot-7 forward from California, averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds last season, appearing in all 33 games.

His length and unbelievable athleticism provided the Red Storm with a player who could make an impact at both ends, blocking shots at one end and finishing above the rim in transition.

“Dwayne is an outstanding individual with a bright future,” Lavin said. “He has been a valued member of our basketball family. He leaves St. John’s University in good academic standing and we wish him well.”

Prior to signing with St. John’s last April, Polee had been committed to USC, reopening his recruitment after the Trojans’ coaching change.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 14, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 1:35 pm

Daouda Soumaoro down to three


Posted by Jeff Borzello

Washington, Texas Tech, St. John’s.

It’s not the most common final three on a player’s list, but those are the three schools in the mix for uncommitted 2011 big man Daouda Soumaoro.

“I’m going to Washington this weekend,” Soumaoro said. “Also visiting Texas Tech on Tuesday.”

Soumaoro is a 6-foot-9 native of Mali who plays his basketball at Our Savior New American (N.Y.) on Long Island.

The power forward took a trip to St. John’s recently, and enjoyed his time on the Jamaica, Queens campus.

“It was great,” Soumaoro said.

Could Steve Lavin be close to welcoming a 10th player into the fold? Or will Soumaoro head to the Southwest or Pacific Northwest? 

Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Thornwell on the rise

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The class of 2013 is going to be known for its depth at the wing position, and one player making his way up the rankings is Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lancaster (S.C.), makes an immediate impact because of his length and athleticism. He handles the ball and distributes well for someone his size, and is also adept at finishing.

“I’m quick and I can handle the ball,” Thornwell said. “I’m always attacking and I play defense.”

Plenty of colleges have taken notice of the versatile 2013 prospect.

Thornwell currently holds offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Charlotte. He also has interest from Louisville, UCF and the entire ACC besides North Carolina and Duke.

Thornwell, who has visited Clemson and South Carolina, knows exactly what he needs in a school.

“I’m looking for playing style, good academics and playing time,” he said. “That’s it.”

2013 big man looking to improve

Most 6-foot-10 sophomores can get by on size and length alone. Andre Walker, on the other hand, is constantly looking to get better.

As it stands, he is a talented but raw big man who can run the floor and finish after he catches it.

“I need to make strong moves and play better defense,” Walker said. “I need to get better, get stronger. I also want to work on my perimeter game. I’m working hard.”

The Clarksburg (Md.) native is hearing from DePaul, Washington State, VCU, Northwestern, George Mason and Maryland.

Whitfield transfers to team with Tyler Lewis

North Carolina is loaded with prospects in the class of 2012. One player flying under the radar is Shane Whitfield, a 6-foot-5 forward.

In an attempt to make a name for himself, Whitfield is transferring next year to Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.). There, he will team up with North Carolina State commit Tyler Lewis in hopes of increasing his recruitment.

“It’s better competition,” Whitfield said. “I want to get better everyday.”

Right now, Whitfield has offers from Delaware, American, Campbell and Holy Cross, with interest from Richmond, Charlotte and East Carolina.

Other notes:

- A Texas team in need of impact players could pick up one this weekend. Recently available Sterling Gibbs and North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow are both visiting Austin this weekend.

- Unsigned 2011 center Daouda Soumaoro is currently on an official visit to Washington. Soumaoro took a trip to St. John’s recently, and said he enjoyed it.

- Top-50 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers is taking an unofficial visit to St. John’s this weekend. The Louisiana native also wants to take a trip to Florida.

Photo: 6manbasketball.com 

Posted on: May 2, 2011 9:40 am
Edited on: May 2, 2011 3:08 pm

Hewitt must win now to please Mason fans

Will this be a

Posted by Eric Angevine

I'll tell you what I think of George Mason's hire of deposed former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt in a minute. First, I want to take a look at how this news has hit the internet (hint: not as hard as the news of Osama bin Ladin's death).

John Feinstein at the Washington Post offered this assessment:

Hewitt is never going to become the kind of cult figure Larranaga became at GMU because his personality is entirely different from Larranaga’s. He’s not going to high-five cheerleaders during player introductions or come up with sayings about being Kryptonite or being from the CAA — Connecticut Assassins Association.

That’s not him. But he’s a respected leader in the coaching community — a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches board of directors — and someone who will have the instant respect of his new players because of the players he’s sent to the NBA (among them Chris Bosh) and because of his demeanor. Hewitt will never be as cuddly as Larranaga, but he will be well-liked.

That NBA connection is going to be huge for some players. I'd be very surprised if Hewitt doesn't have some of those former Tech stars drop by Fairfax to give pep talks and fire up the fan base. Hewitt may not have the personal magnetism Larranaga exudes, but knowing guys who appear on the front of cereal boxes will go a long ways toward ameliorating that deficiency.

Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner thinks Hewitt's experience may be cut to fit the situation:

At George Mason, Hewitt inherits a loaded team that will be favored to win the conference and is likely to be ranked in the preseason top 25. Pressure will be on from the start. Our guess here is that George Mason found the man best equipped to deal with it and take the Patriots onward -- and perhaps even upward.

Fan reaction has been rather more divided. A thread titled "Welcome Coach Hewitt!" at CAAZone.com offers a wide range of opinions:

Just the guy I had hoped we would land....dude can flat out recruit! - dawgs99

I love what Coach L did for our program, but I feel like we just traded in an older used car for a much younger model with better gas mileage. It's a great day to be a Patriot! - TomGMU

Terrible coach (being realized by NBA Scouts who notice how raw the bigs are and underutilized good guards are) - DontYouMeanACC

I feel like this is a pretty good hire, but not a great hire. Like (Tom O'Connor) was swinging to get on base and not strike out, but had no intention of trying to knock it over the fence. - Hugh Akston

My opinion of the hire falls in that 'wait and see' middle ground. Hewitt's record gives us plenty of positives and negatives to extrapolate from, but George Mason is not Siena (where Hewitt went 66-27 and led the Saints to the NCAA tournament), nor is it Georgia Tech (where Hewitt's best season was 9-7 in the ACC, the year he went to the NCAA title game). If anything, fans of the program must hope that Hewitt's mixture of experience garnered at the mid-major and BCS-team levels form a perfect storm at Mason.

We know Hewitt can recruit. He brought a parade of superstar athletes to Georgia Tech, but was never able to really match up with Duke or North Carolina. That's no crime, but a major red flag was appended to Hewitt's resume in 2008-9, when his 'Jackets fell to 2-14 in league play despite the presence of Gani Lawal, Alade Aminu and Iman Shumpert on that team. Last year's squad, though not nearly as loaded, lost to Kennesaw State (8-23 on the season) as well as severely depleted Siena (13-18) and Charlotte (10-20). Kennesaw fired coach Tony Ingle at the end of the season, and the Saints and 49ers outfoxed Hewitt under first-year head coaches.

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Something about this hire reminds me of St. John's decision to hire Steve Lavin last season. The former UCLA head coach had a reputation as a super-smooth recruiter who wasn't the sharpest Xs and Os guy. So what made his first season in New York a success? In my opinion, it was Lavin's decision to tacitly admit his shortcomings, leading to the hire of Gene Keady as an assistant coach. If Lavin is the face and Keady the brains at SJU, it's working. Perhaps Paul Hewitt can find a similar, if cheaper and more low-profile, complementary piece for himself.

Hewitt won't have the luxury of a rebuilding job next season. He is expected to win the CAA and compete for a top-25 national ranking with the loaded team Larranaga left behind. As such, my tempered 'wait and see' is not particularly far-sighted. Mason fans will know what they got by this time next season. Only then will they know if this was a good move.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:33 pm

St. John's receives Gift from God

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Easter’s over, but St. John’s still managed to get God’s Gift.

Of course, we’re talking about Nigerian big man God’s Gift Achiuwa, a junior college transfer from Erie Community College (N.Y.). Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9 power forward, signed with St. John’s on Thursday.

Achiuwa is the ninth member of the Red Storm’s 2011 recruiting class, joining Jakarr Sampson, D’Angelo Harrison, Sir’Dominic Pointer, Maurice Harkless, Norvel Pelle, Amir Garrett, Phil Greene and junior college transfer Nurideen Lindsey.


“I am excited to come to St. John’s and New York City,” Achiuwa said. “I really like the coaching staff and the way St. John’s plays. They are a running team and that’s what I like.”

Achiuwa, who chose the Johnnies over Washington, Cincinnati and others, said location played a role in his decision.

“I like the city and have been to New York a number of times,” he said. “Madison Square Garden is the biggest stage in the world and it is a great opportunity to have The Garden as my home court.”

Posted on: April 21, 2011 1:18 pm

Too soon? A look at next season's holiday games

Posted by Eric Angevine

Our season just ended, but it's never too soon to start thinking about what will happen next. Certainly not for the organizers of early season tournaments, those resume-building events that often give us meaningful matchups. Recall that UConn and Kentucky met on Maui on November 24, 2010 in a preview of an eventual Final Four game. These early battles usually play out in front of few specatators, but they get a lot of scrutiny come Selection Sunday.

So, with that in mind, let's look at some of the evolving fields that organizers are putting together. Not all participants are settled as of right now, and personnel may change radically over the next month or so, but you can keep track of any changes by visiting the CBSSports.com early season tournament guide.

Some highlights:

Coaches vs. Cancer, Nov. 7-11 and 17-18: The automatic qualifiers -- meaning the four power conference teams that advance even if they lose in the first round -- are set. Arizona will be trying to carry over some momentum without Derrick Williams, and they'll be thrown into a field that includes Mississippi State, St. John's and Texas A&M. MSU was an absolute shambles last season, so it will be interesting to see if that's a thing of the past, or if Rick Stansbury is in a downward spiral in Starkville. SJU will be looking to prove that this season's resurgence was no fluke, and A&M has just been consistently good under Mark Turgeon.

Maui Invitational, Nov. 21-23: You don't need my persuasive arguments to see the value in this field. Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA, Georgetown and, of course, plucky Chaminade. One thing that jumps out, however, is Michigan getting another shot at one or more of the programs they faced during their growing season last year. Obviously, this will be quite the melee of blue-blood programs.

Diamond Head Classic, Dec. 22-25 & 25: This one isn't as loaded as the first two we looked at, but it has some intriguing possibilities. There are a couple of big-name programs looking for early statement games in Clemson and Kansas State, plus the always-intriguing mid-majors UTEP and Xavier.

Those three tourneys represent the best fields to date. There are several interesting teams in weak fields elsewhere, such as Marquette showing up in the Paradise Jam, experienced Notre Dame in a field of transitioning programs in the CBE Classic and defending national champs UConn slumming it in the amusingly-named Battle 4 Atlantis. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off throws Purdue in with a whole slew of NIT teams like Alabama, Colorado and Wichita State. Both VCU and Richmond show up as unexpected heavy-hitters in off-off-Broadway productions, as well.

These early tournaments are often just something to have on in the background while digesting heavy holiday meals and conversing dutifully with relatives, but there's usually a little intrigue if you scratch past the surface. There will be new coaches, new players and, best of all, a new basketball season coming, just as the weather starts to turn chilly again this year.

Photo: US Presswire
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com