A catch up post - this is a look at performances from last week.
This year's IS8/ Nike Spring High School Classic tournament runs from April into May. It's the spot where many of New York's best and brightest young basketball stars test themselves against each other.
This year, there are a pair of decidedly non-NYC-bred guests who will soon make the city their home. JaKarr Sampson, the St. John's signee who is originally from Ohio but is in prep school at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (which is far from... anything) came down to Queens for the tournament.
And Sir'Dominic Pointer, the other St. John's signee from Michigan but attending North Carolina's Quality Education Academy, also made the long trip up to play at IS8. It's a chance for good competition (with a lot of Big East players), time to get to know future teammates, and time to throw filthy dunks on heads.
Playing for Nate Blue's Real Scout team alongside Iowa State commit Tavon Sledge, St. John's future stars at forwards Maurice Harkless and JaKarr Sampson showed a little taste of what all that length +skill can bring on the court for the Red Storm. Meanwhile, Sir'Dominic rolled with the Sean Bell All-Stars and Pittsburgh commit Khem Birch and Angel Nunez, a Louisville commit.
Some notes on how they did last week, thanks to the NY Post's Zach Braziller, NYC's Rivals site, and MSG's Jon Rothstein, below the fold>>
"We’re developing a great bond," said the 6-foot-7 [Maurice] Harkless, a former star at Forest Hills who is currently at South Kent (Conn.). "We played four games together and it feels like we’ve been playing together forever."
Their chemistry was evident on Sunday, particularly on the defensive end in forcing turnovers or blocking shots. Real Scout coach Nate Blue, Harkless’ advisor, has been impressed with the duo’s effort on the defensive end...
Rivals ($ req'd):
[JaKarr Sampson] had a nice form to his jumpshot and a very strong frame to absorb contact down low. On the defensive end, Sampson knows how to pressure his opponents and force turnovers when he wants to string together baskets for his squad.
[Maurice Harkless] has found an effective flow to his game, running the floor nicely and finding proper placements for himself to cash in on a monster dunk or a 3-pointer.
[Sir'Dominic Pointer] has proven that he will be a great asset to any team with which he plays. The highly aggressive and impassioned player showed his love for the game through his rugged and gritty style of play on the floor. The 6-foot-5 senior forward.... does not stop going after the ball until he is subbed out.
Jon Rothstein's Six Players to Watch:
[Sir'Dominic Pointer]: An improving ball handler with a feverish tenacity on the boards, this wing will be able to matchup with different positions defensively and give St. John's a physical presence on both sides of the ball they haven't had since Ron Artest.
Jakarr Sampson: Long armed and always active... [Sampson] will be a major anchor in years to come for the Red Storm's vaunted matchup zone defense.
Rothstein's comments on Harkless liken him to Rudy Gay, but bring up the recurring questions about his motor and his tendency to look disinterested at times. That seems to be a high school thing; it's hard for starts to know what to do when they're playing off the ball.
Sometimes players look disinterested because they're saving energy, sometimes because they're lazy, and sometimes because they're waiting to react to another basketball play. Phil Greene had the same disinterest at times to defense, but it doesn't mean he wasn't processing the game.
You have to love the players forming an early bond, getting used to each others' games before they officially set foot on campus.