By Zach Braziller
Orlando Sanchez, the 6-foot-9 JUCO standout out of Monroe College, forgot for a moment the name of the postseason tournament — the NCAA Tournament — all college players want to compete in, but he knew with St. John’s University’s incoming class it’s a possibility.
“They say everyone coming into St. John’s is very good,” he said June 26 at Nike Pro City at Baruch College in lower Manhattan. “We have a lot of possibilities.”
Sanchez, a gifted shot-blocker and athlete for his size, is a major part of the Red Storm’s impressive class, which includes impact forwards JaKarr Sampson (Brewster Academy) and Chris Obekpa (Our Savior New American) and guards Felix Balamou (Our Savior), Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch, Harvard transfer Max Hooper and sharpshooter Marco Bourgault, Sanchez’s Monroe teammate. He picked the Johnnies over Providence and Auburn.
“Orlando can play-make, shot-make, defend multiple positions, block shots and rebound,” St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin said shortly after Sanchez signed.
A versatile forward, Sanchez was named to the All-Tournament team at the NJCAA Nationals as Monroe finished fifth in the tournament. Sanchez, who averaged 10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this past year, chose St. John’s because of the relationship he developed with the coaching staff — “I like the coaches, they talked to me every day,” he said — and its close proximity to Monroe.
Before he begins the next step of his career, Sanchez is playing with Dyckman/NYAC at Nike Pro City, getting back into playing shape after spending six weeks in his native Dominican Republic.
“It’s a good experience,” he said after scoring two points, grabbing five rebounds and adding two assists in a 102-97 loss to the Franchise. “I never played here before. There are NBA [players] here.”
Ervin enjoys season in Ukraine, ready to cut down on summer hoops: Dating back to his days of high school at Robeson, Gary Ervin has spent his summers on the city’s streetball circuit, playing multiple games per day. He remains as passionate about the sport at the age of 27 as he was at 17, but he also has family to take care of.
That’s why Ervin will scale back his schedule over the next few months, to prepare himself for next year — he has yet to decide where he will play — and spend as much time with his two children: daughter Neve’a, 6, and son Amare, 3.
“I want to enjoy my time with family and friends,” he said.
Ervin is coming off a solid year overseas, playing with BC KYIV. He averaged 14 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. He enjoyed his time in the Ukraine Super League, describing Kiev as a “beautiful city,” The only drawback was the frigid weather.
Ervin plans to avoid television the next few days. He’s never watched the NBA Draft; in fact, it is a painful time for him.
“I feel like I belong there,” he said. “All the top players I’ve played against.”
Late miscues cost Dyckman/NYCAC: Dyckman had two chances in the final 9.9 seconds to either go ahead or take the lead and failed to get off a shot either time in a 102-97 basketball loss to the Franchise. Trailing the Franchise by a point with 9.9 seconds left, Nate Brown and Sean Marshall had a miscommunication as Marshall cut to the basket when Brown figured he would stay on the wing.
After New Jersey Nets guard Sundiata “Yatta” Gaines made two free throws, Marshall drove to the hoop, hung in the air and threw the ball away again. Gaines iced the game with two more free throws.
Ervin led the Franchise with 30 points; Gaines, the former Archbishop Molloy star, had 29 points, nine rebounds and four assists; and Scotty Hopson, previously of Tennessee, had 12 points. Marshall had 27 points and five assists in defeat for Dyckman, former Fordham and St. John’s Prep dynamo Bryant Dunston had 21 points and 13 rebounds and former Cornell standout Jeff Foote added 12 points and 11 rebounds.