A top 50 point guard from the class of 2016 and a Brooklyn native, Shamorie Ponds has taken his talents across New York City to Queens and St. John’s University. Ponds joins a St. John’s team looking for inspiration as a highly-touted recruit with high expectations from the Red Storm faithful.
The 6’1” guard is electric. The lefty lead his team, Thomas Jefferson High School, to PSAL and State titles, averaging 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists per game. He has a natural instinct in traffic for finding the rim and works incredibly well in small spaces, often finishing on difficult shots or making a tough pass to a wide-open teammate. He is also an incredible ball-handler and can create his own shots with relative ease in one-on-one match-ups. His jump shot is good and he has the ability, even if he is a bit streaky, to be a shooter. He is incredibly tenacious and never stops working on both offense and defense, often throwing himself into the thick of the action to go get rebounds and to occupy passing lanes. He isn’t afraid of contact and can finish through it very well. He’s athletic enough to be a threat at and above the rim as a finisher and is quick, but he isn’t an athletic freak who can jump into orbit, and playing in the Big East will push him to play the toughest and most physical basketball he’s ever played.
Ponds joins an intriguing St. John’s roster. Marcus LoVett is available after his redshirt year and Federico Mussini is a returning starter, both at the point guard position. Mussini was a shooter and a sparkplug for a good portion of St. John’s offense last year, and LoVett was a highly touted recruit who was ruled ineligible last year and had to spend it on the bench. Now all three will be fighting for court time alongside a young, hungry team featuring returning talent in junior forward Amar Alibegovic, sophomore forward Kassoum Yakwe, and sophomore center Yankuba Sima, amongst others. Guards Malik Ellison, Elijah Holifield, and transfer guard/forward Bashir Ahmed will also be in the conversation for minutes alongside LoVett, Mussini, and Ponds, so the Red Storm and coach Chris Mullin will have a lot of decisions to make for backcourt pairings.
I believe that Ponds will start off on the bench as a backup to the more experienced Mussini, but will compete with Mussini and LoVett for starts by the start of the Big East season. He has all of the skills needed to compete in the conference, and now just needs the seasoning that comes with playing against NCAA competition day in and day out during the season. He’s already established rapport with LoVett (according to this New York Post article, he attended most of St. John’s home games and has become fast friends with his new teammate) and chose to stand up for his city and bring winning basketball back to St. John’s. I think we can expect great things from Ponds in a Red Storm uniform.