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Second act: Ponds wants to throw Garden party with St. Johns

By Troy Mauriello

Thomas Jefferson’s Shamorie Ponds enjoyed his first taste of winning a championship at Madison Square Garden and he wants to experience it again.

After seeing some other Brooklyn players take the Big East title with Seton Hall, Ponds would like to get that championship feeling again with St. John’s at the Big East tournament

Just hours after Ponds and his Jefferson teammates ended a 62-year title drought March 12 with a blowout 90-61 win over Lincoln in the PSAL Class AA boys’ basketball final at The Garden, former Lincoln stars Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez and former Loughlin standout Khadeen Carrington took the floor for Seton Hall in the Big East final.

That trio combined for 46 points, including 26 from Whitehead, as Seton Hall won its first Big East title since 1993 with a 69-67 win over top-seeded Villanova. The win punched a ticket for The Hall into its first NCAA Tournament since 2006.

But Ponds doesn’t just want to repeat their performances during his time at St. John’s, he wants to exceed them.

“Going into next year, watching Seton Hall, I just want to come and do the same thing… do even better,” said Ponds following his team’s championship victory.

If Jefferson’s title game was any indication of how Ponds will perform in big games during his collegiate career, St. John’s fans have something to look forward to.

Ponds was electric against his team’s borough rival, scoring a game-high 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, all while recording six steals and dishing out a game-high five assists.

And the stellar performance for Ponds came with Red Storm head coach Chris Mullin and assistants Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih in the stands.

Ponds noted postgame that playing in front of his future coaches was a bit unsettling at first, as evidenced by his one-of-seven shooting in the first half. Ponds finally found his rhythm after the break to drop in 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter.

“To start the game I was kind of nervous,” he said. “But as the game flowed, the nerves and jitters got out, and I just played my game.”

But those on the Red Storm coaching staff are not the only ones excited for Ponds’ debut in Queens. St. John’s fans have been showing Ponds immense amounts of support on social media, as he is now the face of Mullin’s first recruiting class at the school after former Christ the King star Rawle Alkins’ commitment to Arizona earlier in the week.

Ponds wanted those Red Storm fans to know that he plans on making performances like this one common in his time at St. John’s.

“You can expect the same me,” he said. “Even better though.”

The high hopes for Ponds’ future at St. John’s and in the Big East are not only held by those currently associated with the school. Jefferson head coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard knows that his senior star can help accomplish at St. John’s what current New York City kids are doing at Seton Hall.

“People say New York City is down, we don’t have players,” Pollard said. “You see what those guys [at Seton Hall] are doing? I think Shamorie has that potential… he has a lot of guys coming in with him, so he should be ready.”

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