St. John’s target Alkins beginning final phase of recruitment

By Joseph Staszewski

Rawle Alkins is entering the final stages of his recruitment.

The former Christ the King star, who currently plays for Word of God Academy in North Carolina, was back in New York City for two games at the Big Apple Basketball Invitational at Baruch College over Martin Luther King Day weekend.

After an 86-78 loss to Genesis Prep on Saturday night, Alkins announced he received his PSAT scores and will begin scheduling official visits to his numerous college suitors. Alkins, the No. 9 ranked senior in the country by Rivals, has narrowed his choices down to North Carolina, St. John’s, North Carolina State, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, UNLV, Louisville and Indiana.

“From there it is picking a school,” Alkins said.

He said he will have to miss some of Word of God’s games to visit the schools and that no destinations or dates have been set yet. Alkins said he texted every school on his list and they want him on their campuses as soon as possible. He did say a trip to St. John’s has been discussed, but not finalized.

One thing he did say was certain was that spending a year away at school hasn’t changed the way he feels about being far from home for his college career. Distance will not be a factor in his decision.

“I know the life that I want to choose I’m going to be away from home regardless,” Alkins said. “College, I am going to travel everywhere. I’m not going to be home even if I go to a local school.”

The 6-foot-4 Alkins, who was playing in the five boroughs for the second time this year, rebounded from a slow start and foul trouble against Genesis. He scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds. His best sequence came midway through the fourth quarter when he buried a three from the right side and converted a beautiful spin move for a layup to pull his team within 72-66 with 4:17 to play. But that late best effort still wasn’t enough to give his team a win.

“I would have liked to have won the game, but unfortunately it didn’t happen,” Alkins said.

On Monday he scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in a loss to South Kent (CT) with St. John’s coach Chris Mullin and Louisville head man Rick Pitino watching at Baruch.

He did not return to Christ the King, because he was not eligible to play his fifth high-school season in the CHSAA after playing varsity games in Florida before returning home.

playing varsity games as an eighth grader in Florida.

Alkins helped Christ the King produce an unprecedented era of winning. He is the only player in school history to win three CHSAA Intersectional titles and also two state Federation Class AA crowns. Last season, Alkins became the first boys’ player at CK to record a triple double.

There is a part of him that sometimes misses playing with Christ the King in the CHSAA in packed gyms. Word of God has an enrollment of 230 students and sometimes just seven students in a class, compared to an enrollment of 900 at Christ the King.

“I miss the people, some of my friends,” Alkins said.

Back in New York City, he enjoyed the simple things during his short stay, like a night in his family’s Brooklyn home, pizza and a chat with local reporters. His mother, Derline Zephir, said that whenever he is back it is like a homecoming.

“Everyone is screaming out his name, jumping on him, hugging him, kissing him,” she said.

While Alkins has adjusted to life in North Carolina, where there’s more isolation than he is used to, he is still a city kid at heart. His family has made the trip down a few times to watch him play and check in. He joked that there are times when there is nothing to do down there and he is bored. His mother sees the time away as something that will ease his college transition.

“It’s a start of being responsible,” Zephir said. “As much as it is hard not having him around, it’s showing him how to focus.”

Alkins’ attention, when he is not on the court, can now fully focus on finding his next destination. The final phase of his recruitment is a go.

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