Wednesday, April 26, 2017

St. John's news & notes: Ponds/LoVett receive All-Met honors, OOC schedule update, Ahmed testing waters

Shamorie Ponds received dual honors from Met Basketball Writers Association, winning Rookie of Year award while also being named to MBWA first team. (Photo by St. John's University Athletics)

It's been a newsworthy week for St. John's as the offseason has dawned upon us. Let's get caught up to speed, shall we?

  • The freshman backcourt was rightfully recognized for their efforts.
    Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett both captured All-Met honors, both of which will be formally announced later today at the annual MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown. Ponds became the twelfth player in program history to be named Rookie of the Year after leading St. John's with 17.4 points per game and adding to that with 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per contest. He is the third Red Storm freshman in this decade to have top rookie honors bestowed upon him, joining Maurice Harkless and JaKarr Sampson, who won their awards in 2012 and 2013, respectively, before embarking upon their NBA careers. Ponds added to his accolades by being selected to the MBWA All-Met first team, which gives the Johnnies representation on the first team for the tenth time in the last eleven years.

    LoVett garnered second team recognition as Ponds' running mate in the backcourt, averaging 15.9 points and 3.8 assists per game. The redshirt freshman recently announced he would forego an opportunity to play professionally next season, returning to St. John's to renew one of the best guard stables in the Big East Conference in 2017-18.
  • The non-conference schedule is beginning to take shape.
    It was officially announced on Monday that the Red Storm would face Arizona State on December 8 in the second annual Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, a neutral-site contest held at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The matchup with Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils will be part of a doubleheader, with Oklahoma and Southern California also participating in the event.

    "We look forward to participating in the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at Staples Center," head coach Chris Mullin said in a release issued by the university's athletic communications office. "It's a first-class event at a renowned venue, and it is always an honor for our program to be affiliated with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame."

    This news follows a report earlier this month by CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein, who revealed that St. John's would face Grand Canyon on December 5 in Phoenix as part of a doubleheader that also features Arizona and Texas A&M. The Red Storm will also be competing in the Advocare Invitational over Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando, and will most likely have at least one game in between at Carnesecca Arena before heading to the West Coast.
  • Comings and goings:
    Mikey Dixon signed his letter of intent with St. John's last week, consummating a transfer that was first reported the week prior. The reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, Dixon will sit out during the 2017-18 season as he completes his NCAA-mandated year in residence following his departure from Quinnipiac, and will have three years of eligibility remaining when he suits up in 2018.

    On the outgoing transfer front, Darien Williams and Malik Ellison are still weighing their options after announcing their intent to play elsewhere. Multiple reports from Rothstein had Williams visiting both UConn and Washington State, while also considering Georgia Tech, Nevada, and Pittsburgh. The graduate transfer from San Francisco is immediately eligible. Ellison, who would sit a year and then have two more remaining, has already visited Pitt, and has reportedly targeted Harvard and Virginia as well.

    Finally, Zach Braziller; who continues to chronicle the Red Storm for the New York Post even while on vacation in South Korea, broke news that Bashir Ahmed has declared for the NBA Draft. However, the junior forward will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open for him to return to Queens for his senior season. Braziller clarified that Ahmed simply wants feedback from professional scouts and executives, which the new early entry rules provide a greater opportunity to receive, and plans to return to St. John's.

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