By Troy Mauriello
Roughly eight months prior to his collegiate debut at St. John’s, Jefferson guard Shamorie Ponds will get yet another chance to play in an arena that he will soon call home.
One week after playing in his first game at Carnesecca Arena, Ponds and his teammates will face off with their Brooklyn rivals Abraham Lincoln in the PSAL Class AA boys’ basketball finals noon Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Ponds, who verbally committed to St. John’s on Sept. 29 and signed his letter of intent two months later, expressed his excitement for his first game at The Garden at a press conference on Mar. 10.
“It’s a good experience just to play in two of my future homes, to go and get used to the court,” Ponds said. “But I’m just looking forward to coming out here and getting the win at Madison Square Garden.”
The St. John’s men’s basketball team plays a majority of its Big East conference games at The World’s Most Famous Arena, including a home-and-home rivalry matchup with Syracuse.
For all the excitement that Ponds has about playing in an arena that will be his future home next season, his goal remains clear: to help his Jefferson break a 60-year city title drought with a win.
The Orange Wave has appeared in four of the last five city finals, failing to win each time. Their most recent appearance in the final was Ponds’ sophomore season two years ago, when they suffered a heartbreaking 55-54 loss to Benjamin Cardozo at Barclays Center.
Ponds led Jefferson in that game with 16 points, however he missed a key free throw in the closing seconds that opened the door for a Cardozo win. He noted the motivation that he and his teammates will take from that loss into Saturday as well.
“It’s a lot of motivation, because obviously this is my last year to go to this point (the city championship),” he said. “So I just want to go out with a bang and win it.”
Whether or not that will be the case for Ponds will be decided on Saturday, however it’s certain that he’ll be moving on to bigger things whenever his high school career comes to an end.
With the commitment of former Christ the King guard Rawle Alkins to Arizona earlier this week, Ponds has officially become the face of Chris Mullin’s first recruiting class at St. John’s – one Brooklyn lefty joining another.
He is the first of what Red Storm fans hope become the many New York City players to stay local and attend St. John’s. Ponds is certainly been feeling the support, even more so after Alkins chose to head West.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ponds said. “I appreciate all of the love that everybody’s been giving me.”