Jefferson star Shamorie Ponds lands at St. John’s

By Joseph Staszewski

St. John’s fans will have another lefty from Brooklyn to root for.

Thomas Jefferson senior guard Shamorie Ponds made weeks of speculation official by verbally committing to the Red Storm and head coach Chris Mullin at a press conference at the East New York school Tuesday.

Ponds, ranked No. 41 in the nation by ESPN.com, is the highest-ranked New York City recruit to commit to St. John’s since Maurice Harkless in 2011. Much of his decision to do so had to do with the relationship he forged with Mullin, also a lefty guard from Brooklyn.

“We related a lot because he stayed home and played for St. John’s,” Ponds said. “Lefty. We basically went off of that.”

Ponds chose St. John’s over Providence, Creighton and Minnesota, but reports said Ponds’ camp was split between SJU and Providence in the final days. He said he made the choice a week ago, but his family took its time weighing the pros and cons of each school before making it official. Ponds never wavered from Mullin and the Red Storm.

“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Ponds said. “He can put me in an NBA style of play.”

The Orange Wave star stressed how important it was for him to play in front of his family and friends. There was also an attraction to take the court and light up Madison Square Garden, a place where Ponds has never played. In addition, he and his family believe in the direction the Red Storm is taking.

“He stuck to St. John’s and that’s what it was,” his father, Shawn Ponds Sr., said. “Ultimately I think it is going to be the best for him.”

Ponds is the best player currently competing in the five boroughs with fellow St. John’s target Rawle Alkins, playing his final season at Word of God in North Carolina. The Jefferson standout hopes to be the first of many local recruits to stay home with the Johnnies. He said he was already texting Alkins after the press conference.

“I’m working on it right now,” Ponds said.

His commitment allows Mullin to begin to make good on his promise that the Red Storm was going to dominate local recruiting during his tenure as coach, by grabbing one of the area’s brightest stars.

The 6-foot-1 Ponds averaged 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists per contest as a junior at Jefferson last season. The lanky athletic wing scored in bunches, at the rim and from the outside. Ponds’ best game was a 37-point night in an early season win over Lincoln.

He spent most of this summer skyrocketing up the national rankings after his junior travel-ball season didn’t go the way he had hoped with the Juice All-Stars. It pushed Ponds to become a gym rat and made him determined to prove he was among the elite guards in his class. He was ranked No. 100 in early April, but played his way into a spot on the Elite 24 roster, in a game that showcases the top talent in the country.

“I didn’t think he would be that tall or that athletic,” Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard said. “The other day I watched him do a 360-backwards dunk. I didn’t see that as a freshman. He was a little chubby kid who was really good and he got better.”

He is headed to a program that wants to do so, too, with a fellow lefty scorer at helm.

“I think Shamorie is going to be part of something that is going to build,” Shawn Ponds Sr. said. “St. John’s is going to build with Chris Mullin.”

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