Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ich Bin Ein Air Horne

Paris Horne rises above the rim with this dunk over eventual national champion UConn and Kemba Walker. Horne becomes first St. John's player to play professionally in Steve Lavin era, signing with BG Gottingen of German Bundesliga. (Photo courtesy of Connecticut Post)

It's not the league or the player that most fans expected, but one of the ten seniors on last year's miracle team that returned to the NCAA Tournament has allowed St. John's University to once again lay claim to producing a professional talent.

In the words of my former WSJU colleague David Berov, you can "Sound the Horne;" because earlier this afternoon, Red Storm senior associate athletic director for communications and men's basketball sports information director Mark Fratto officially announced via the team's Twitter account that shooting guard Paris Horne became the first from last year's senior class to sign a professional deal. Horne will take his talents to Germany as the newest member of the BG Göttingen squad in the Basketball Bundesliga. Horne is not the only familiar name on the BG Göttingen roster either, as fans of the Big East will also recognize former Villanova swingman Dwayne Anderson. A player somewhat similar to Horne in style and fundamentals, Anderson spent four years on the Main Line with the Wildcats, playing for Jay Wright from 2006-2009; and was on Villanova's Final Four team in his last season.

"I'm very excited to begin my professional career," said Horne, a four-year veteran that endeared himself to fans of the Johnnies both for his high-energy offensive game and stingy defensive efforts. "I would like to thank Coach (Steve) Lavin and the St. John's coaches for teaching me so much in the past year, as well as the former coaches for giving me the chance to play college basketball at the highest level and in the toughest conference."

Horne came a long way since arriving on the corner of Union and Utopia after his prep year at the Bridgton Academy in Maine. The Delaware-born and Philadelphia-raised guard chose the Johnnies and then-coach Norm Roberts over a number of other suitors that included Ohio University, and became a starter in his sophomore season after Anthony Mason Jr. suffered a season-ending injury just three games into the year. Paris shined in that starting role as a sophomore, with performances that included a defensive masterpiece at Madison Square Garden where he held Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney to just ten points in St. John's upset win over the then-seventh-ranked Fighting Irish; as well as a near-perfect night three weeks later against Rutgers, one that saw the guard score a career-high 27 points on 12-of-13 shooting. "Air Horne" held his starting spot through his junior campaign, only to lose it at the beginning of his senior season to point guard Dwight Hardy midway through the year. However, the always-determined Horne played hard enough to get Lavin to reinsert him into the starting five by year's end during a season in which he added his name to the illustrious list of 1,000-point scorers for the Red Storm, a group that fellow senior D.J. Kennedy also joined last year. Horne also ended his tenure in a Red Storm uniform tied for second in career three-pointers, just three behind the school record. His trey from the corner against Providence on New Year's night this past season gave the Johnnies their second win in as many Big East games to start the conference season, and helped galvanize the team for their magical month of February in which they ascended to the No. 14 ranking in the Associated Press poll.