Spring is bearing fruit. College basketball is coming to a close of another surprising season. For the fortunate teams with highly-regarded ballers coming in, it's also time to follow the youngins' progress in major and minor all-star games.
Maurice Harkless has already earned an MVP award in the tough Portchester CYP Tournament, where many New York City area stars played, including Jabari Hinds, Sidiki Johnson, Mike Taylor, Tavon Sledge, Jermaine Sanders and more.
And there's more to whet the fans' appetites. More chances to see the future Johnnies before they go into their summer training. Harkless and a number of the future Red Storm players will be on display in two televised All-Star games, one competitive matchup, and a dunk contest - all this weekend.
I don't know how this happened - good marketing? A savvy coaching staff who talks up their players? Favorable recruiting information? But all of the currently-committed future Johnnies will be on television this weekend, with the exception of Junior College guard (and likely starter at guard) Nurideen Lindsey, who is finishing up his coursework at Oklahoma's Redlands Community College. I ain't complaining.
For where you can catch Amir Garrett, Maurice Harkless, Sir'Dominic Pointer, D'angelo Harrison, Dwight Meikle, Phil Greene, and JaKarr Sampson, read on, below the fold.
Where to catch the recruits
QC Redman on a couple of the message boards posted this handy-dandy list of where and when to catch many of St. John's recruits this weekend:
Thursday March 31st at 4:00pm on ESPNU - Amir Garrett and Findlay Prep play in ESPN Rise Tournament vs Dwyer HS (Palm Beach Gardens, FL).
Sunday April 3rd 3:00pm on CBS College Sports - Norvel Pelle and Phil Greene in Next All American Classic, Chicago
Sunday April 3rd 4:30pm on CBS - Dwight Meikle in High School dunk contest
Sunday April 3rd 9:00pm on ESPNU (3:00 PM on ESPN3.com) - Sir'Dominic Pointer, Maurice Harkless, JaKarr Sampson and D'Angelo Harrison in All-American Championship all-star game
ESPN Rise Tournament
Amir Garrett is fun to watch for Findlay. Generally, he's played forward for the Findlay team, defending and working close to the basket - he completes the smart, simple plays. He'll probably have a different look in college, but if you haven't seen him yet, take a look.
The winner of the Findlay/ Dwyer matchup plays on Friday at 5.30 pm Eastern on ESPN 2; the championship game of the 8 team tournament is on Saturday at 2.00 pm Eastern.
Dwight Meikle in the Dunk Contest
Unfortunately, the event will be taped tomorrow (Friday, April 1st), but rebroadcast on CBS from 4.30-6.00 pm. National exposure is nice, though, especially for the unknown man in St. John's recruiting class. The skinny but tall (6'9" by some accounts) Meikle comes with little fanfare; he is from Rockville Center, NY (close to South Side and Baldwin, so I have to like him), and this will be fans' first chance to catch a look at what he can do... in a couple of dunks. Better than nothing, and gets his name - and the fact that the Red Storm recruited some thoroughbreds - out there.
NeXt All American Classic - Phillip Greene/ Norvel Pelle
Played out in the crack of the Chicago suburbs known as Hoffman Estates, I should think about going. But The concept of an hour drive back home for an all-star game, and the fact that it's shown live on television will keep my kiester firmly planted on the couch. The NeXt roster is Chicago-centric, so a number of DePaul and Illinois players will be on the floor.
But the other "unknown" recruit, Phil Greene, gets to come home for the game - he finished his last high school year at IMG Academy in Florida. It'll be interesting to see on the floor - I'll be looking at his handle and his outside shooting as well. Will we get a look at his potential?
Meanwhile, the more touted Norvel Pelle - one of a number of top-50 recruits in the game - flies in from Los Angeles to play. He's well known enough to get a write-up in a Recruiting Spotlight preview:
Adjehi Baru vs. Norvel Pelle In the battle of the bigs, these two play different styles in that Pelle uses his length and athleticism more whereas Baru is a tremendous rebounder and has good fundamentals. Another significant difference is Baru is already solid and probably won’t improve too much in college whereas Pelle’s #50 rankings is based largely on his potential due to his physical abilities. It will be fun to see the differences between the two play out and how Baru handles Pelle’s length and how Pelle handles Baru’s size.
Baru is a true center who will be going to the College of Charleston. Pelle is an interesting case for the recruiters - long, lean, athletic, but hasn't improved as much as some predicted he would. This is an All-Star game, meaning the players will be running end to end, not executing many post moves or running "offense" (or playing defense). So don't get too heated if Pelle does some disappointing things. He's there to show off his impressive speed and quickness, and maybe block a few shots.
Gazelle Group's All-American Championship
North vs. South: 3.00 PM ESPN3.com, rebroadcast at 9.00 pm Eastern on ESPNU
East vs. West: 4.45 (approx) ESPN3.com, rebroadcast at 10.30 pm Eastern on ESPNU
The Gazelle Group - who are also the organization that currently manages the 2K Sports Classic early-season tournament (St. John's will play in 2K Sports/ Coaches vs. Cancer this coming fall) has brought four teams of high school all-stars from four regions together for the All-American Championship... which seems to have 2 separate games, so I don't know how one crowns a "champion" from that. Must be like the BCS.
The teams are composed of juniors and seniors, and include Maurice Harkless and JaKarr Sampson on the EAST team; D'Angelo Harrison on the WEST team; and Sir'Dominic Pointer on the SOUTH team.
Pointer's coach Isaac Pitts will coach the South team. Jason Brewster, who coached Malik Stith at Brewster Academy, will coach the East team. The South team will be coached by Yates' Greg Wise.
Sir'Dominic Pointer and his defense will be on display first; fans will want to catch a look at his athleticism on screen. The second game will feature three guys who could compete to be the scoring leader on next year's red Storm team, in the versatile JaKarr Sampson, who can score and pass; the versatile scorer Maurice Harkless; and the shooter D'Angelo Harrison.
Expect a lot of chucked-up shots. But I always like to see which players can be judicious in their chucking - the ones who take shots they can realistically make, not the ones they made once in that awesome dream they had.
Yes, these are All-Star games. Exhibitions. But they give a little insight into a game-changing class for the St. John's program.