Player of the Week: Shamorie Ponds is powering St. John's undefeated February
The Red Storm sophomore combo guard lit up Marquette for 44 points
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.
44 points for Shamorie Ponds in a win over Marquette! 🐐 pic.twitter.com/A5kYVXmbJW— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) February 10, 2018
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.
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