Player of the Week: Shamorie Ponds is powering St. John's undefeated February

St. John's has come into February with the aggression of a wronged rhino. 

The Red Storm are 3-0 this month, famously knocking off No. 4 Duke on Feb. 3 and then following that up with a road win over No. 1 Villanova last Wednesday. It marked the first time in the history of the AP poll that a team had lost at least 10 straight games and then snapped its losing streak with back-to-back wins over top-five opponents. 

Shamorie Ponds is the star sophomore guard for the 13-13 Johnnies, and he is the CBS Sports Player of the Week, presented by Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. Ponds followed up his 26-point performance in the win over Nova last Wednesday with a career-high and Big East season-high of 44 in St. John's win over Marquette on Saturday. Ponds averaged 35.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 24-of-43 in both games over the past week. He shot 50 percent from 3 combined against Villanova and St. John's (6 for 12).

St. John's upset of Villanova marked the first time the program beat a top-ranked team since its coach and most decorated alum, Chris Mullin, played for the Johnnies in the mid-1980s.

So yeah, Ponds was an easy selection. 

There's been some concern at St. John's over whether Mullin can actually pull the program around. Ponds provides hope. He was a borderline top-10 freshman last season. Now he's averaging 21.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists as a sophomore. With backcourtmate Marcus LoVett out for the season, Ponds has stepped up and proved he's worthy of being named First Team All-Big East at season's end. 

The 6-foot-1 guard out of Brooklyn has also flared onto NBA scouts' radars, though he's got a lot of work to do still before proving to be worth a draft pick. Ponds' 3-point shot is still not accurate enough, and if he's going to become a pro he will likely spend more time in the offseason on his long-range game than any other facet in his arsenal. 

Going forward, St. John's has to hope LoVett returns to full form next season -- with Ponds back for his junior year. If that were to happen, NCAA Tournament expectations would come as well. SJU would realistically be able to boast a top-three backcourt in the Big East. It could be, finally, the breakthrough season.

St. John's goes for four straight on Wednesday night at DePaul. With a win, it would be the first four-game winning streak in the league for the school since 2015.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning senior writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his ninth season reporting on college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics... Full Bio

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