Former CK star Alkins passes on SJU for Arizona

By Joseph Staszewski

Rawle Alkins will not be returning home to play college basketball.

The former Christ the King star and Canarsie native passed on the chance to return to New York City and play at St. John’s when he verbally committed to Arizona on ESPN Monday. Alkins picked Coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats over the Red Storm, North Carolina, N.C. State and UNLV. He let out an exhale after the words Arizona left his lips.

“It’s a relief, getting that stuff away,” Alkins said on the broadcast.

Arizona came on strong for the 6-foot-4 Alkins, who is currently playing at Word of God Academy (N.C.). The Wildcats were a late addition to the five-star recruit’s final list of suitors, but was the last team standing. He noted the importance of the relationship he forged with Miller and assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson. Arizona is 24-7 and currently ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25.

“One thing when I took that college visit that really stuck with me was the fact that winning was the only option with them,” Alkins said. “Coach Miller just stresses winning.”

Alkins, sporting a gray suit and blue tie, which was revealed to have an Arizona logo, said he didn’t realize how far basketball could get him until he was a freshman at Christ the King guarding current Fordham guard Jon Sereve, then a CK senior, at practice with then-Rams coach Tom Pecora in attendance. Fordham offered him a scholarship on the spot.

“From there I just said, ‘Wow. I can do something with the game of basketball,’” Alkins said.

He won three straight CHSAA Class AA Intersectional titles with Christ the King and two state Federation crowns. Alkins was the league’s regular-season and playoff MVP as a junior. ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi has compared his game to former New York City greats Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Whitehead.

“This guy is powerful, he’s sturdy, he uses his body to score and his skills are getting better,” Biancardi said on air.

St. John’s will not be short on local talent next season, even with Alkins heading west. Jefferson guard Shamorie Ponds, junior college standout Bashir Ahmed of the Bronx and German wing Richard Freudenberg highlight next season’s class. The Red Storm has the top recruiting class in the Big East, according to 247Sports.com’s composite team rankings. Coach Chris Mullin and his staff are still in the mix for five-star recruits Thon Maker and Terrance Ferguson.

With his decision made, Alkins is shifting his focus to preparing to make an immediate impact at Arizona. He plans on dominating the Pac-12 conference.

“I’m in the gym. I’m working out, trying to get the college-ready body,” Alkisn said. “I don’t want to be a freshman that sits on the bench cheering for the team. I want to be one of the impact freshman the [pundits] talk about at the beginning of the year.”

More from Around New York