Three years of being a hometown basketball star at St. John’s has given Shamorie Ponds many accolades and a decent amount of exposure.
His eyes have been on playing in the NBA. Is the undersized combo guard turning heads on the highest professional level? Will he be picked in the two-round NBA Draft?
Measured at 6’0 1/2” and 180 pounds with 9.8% body fat and a 6’3” wingspan, Shamorie Ponds is a player whose prolific production draws attention, but begs a question of projectability, even in a more wide-open, free-flowing NBA context.
Ponds has worked out for the following NBA teams:
By the numbers
In Ponds’ career at St. John’s, he:
- used 28% of the teams’ possessions, with a effective field goal percentage of 50%;
- assisted on 26% of his teammates’ shots and turned the ball over on 11% of his possessions;
- grabbed 11% of available defensive rebounds;
- collected steals on nearly 4% of opponent possessions.
Shamorie Ponds was offense at St. John’s.
Ponds was a reliable and explosive scoring machine who averaged 19.5 points per game, 4.3 assists, 4.5 total rebounds, 2.3 steals and 35 minutes per game on 51% on two-pointers, 33% from outside the arc and 84% from the free throw line.
His career high of 44 points came in a win over Marquette in 2018; he had a trio of 37-point games in a loss to Villanova and wins over Georgetown and over Georgia Tech, where he pulled the team to a victory against fellow New Yorker Jose Alvarado. Ponds enjoyed 10 games with 30 points or more, and 45 games with 20 or more points. His career high for assists was 14.
Shamorie Ponds was a top-50 high school player who chose to come to St. John’s to play for Chris Mullin.
He started his career scoring in double digits in 30 of his 33 games, assisted at a decent rate, and found ways to score. In conference play, Ponds was deft at scoring inside the arc, but lost the touch a bit from distance.
Year two saw Ponds’ usage skyrocket from 26% to 33%, and his efficiency cratered as a result. His outside shot was a struggle, 21% from deep in non-conference play before improving to 29%. His assist rate was high, but a the turnovers were a notch higher and Ponds showed the strain of playing as part of a six-man rotation.
Year three was far better, as Ponds led the Red Storm to enough marquee wins that, despite a late swoon and some issues defending inside, the Johnnies made the NCAA Tournament. Ponds’ numbers were very similar to his freshman year numbers, but with a higher rate of assists, lower turnover percentage, more trips to the free throw line, and more consistent shooting from outside the arc.
(Notes listed as “from Trey” are information gleaned from NBA scouts, thanks to Trey Rodriguez.)
Can score. Shamorie Ponds may be undersized, but his ability to score at awkward angles, create space, use change-of-speeds, and get to the rim is excellent, perhaps even elite. His scoring should translate to the NBA level, at least in bursts.
From Trey: He’s an incredibly crafty scorer. An offensive threat in more ways than one, super attractive in today’s guard driven, offense-heavy game.
Strong ballhandler/ passer/ playmaker. Ponds’ ability to get past other players, his quick hands, and his agility allow him to make very good passes while in motion. He sees the floor fairly well, though he was a primary scorer for St. John’s.
Can be a good defender. Ponds’ steal numbers were initially the result of a system that allowed him to gamble (especially with a shot blocker like Tariq Owens behind). This season, Ponds had some good defensive stretches. (Ponds also had stretches where he conserved his energy getting back on defense or reached when he needed to deny penetration; a different role and some training can help improve his defensive acumen.)
Shooting consistency? Shamorie Ponds’ shot can come from many angles, and by choice, he will take shots at interesting times in the shot clock.
From Trey: He’s very very streaky and often settles too much for long shots.
Size/ strength. The major cons for Ponds are the combination of height and lack of speed/ explosiveness. Yes, the league is forgiving of small and/ or skinny players these days (though you can still see Quinn Cook get shoved around in the post on a mismatch if you watch the finals), but NBA guards tend to be bigger and stronger.
Shamorie Ponds can counter this with craftiness and skill, but it’s also plausible to see how some scouts don’t like the lack of physical upside.
From Trey: He’s not as quick or explosive as scouts would like for his height—also not the tallest or strongest. “Most guys compensate their lack of speed, at his height, with strength and defense,” said one scout. “They’re pests. Look at [Kyle] Lowry or [Patrick] Beverely.”
Position/ role. Is he a point guard? Is a team willing to let him create chaos with the ball in his hands as part of a first or second unit?
Mock drafts tend to have Ponds as a mid-second round pick. But the second round can be a crapshoot of stash-and-draft picks, interesting fliers, and late trades.
Philadelphia, Portland, New York, Brooklyn and possibly Cleveland all seem to have interest.
“If he can add some muscle and absorb contact a bit better... if he can do that, and work on his footwork defensively, he’s a guaranteed backup guard, at the very least.”
“If Quinn Cook can get a job, Shamorie can.”
“If he can put on some muscle, and polish out his offensive game — better decision making as a scorer and better consistency on his three point shooting — he should certainly be capable of captaining a team’s bench, maybe more.”