All roads converge in Houston.
And with all eyes focused on the NCAA Final Four, future college standouts descended upon Texas to showcase their skills in the first annual All-American Championship.
The Red Storm had a strong presence in Houston, featuring a combined four signees in the two all-star games.
Forward Sir’Dominic Pointer was the lone Johnny in the afternoon’s first game, tallying 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals in the South’s 93-91 overtime victory over the North.
The 6’6” swingman from Quality Education Academy (NC) is regarded by ESPN Recruiting Insider Dave Telep as “the most improved wing in [the Class of 2011]”. In the spring of 2010, he was projected to be a mid-major recruit, but a strong summer showing and impressive senior season at Quality Ed. has lifted him all the way to #34 on ESPNU’s Top 100 prospects of 2011.
Most impressive for Pointer in this All-American Championship was his defensive presence. Even in an offensively-based All-Star game, Pointer showed flashes of defensive brilliance, including locking down and picking the pocket of guard Ryan Boatright, a UConn signee, and diving on the floor for the loose ball.
On defensive prowess alone, Pointer could find himself in Steve Lavin’s starting lineup next season, bringing toughness and hustle to what will be an incredibly young roster.
But his offensive game is something of note, as well.
Pointer showed confidence driving to the basket in traffic with either hand, finishing a pretty dribble-drive through contact with the left hand in the third quarter and knocking down a free throw to convert the 3-point play. Also, his rise-and-fire three pointer in overtime helped the South to victory.
Maurice Harkless of South Kent (CT), Steve Lavin’s first commit from the Class of 2011, won Most Outstanding Player for the East, pouring in 15 points. With a balance of an inside game at the rim and the ability to knock down the jumper in the mid-range, Harkless showed the versatility that will translate to the college game next season.
His night was highlighted by an acrobatic dunk in the third quarter, when he took a pass off the backboard from Rutgers-bound point guard Myles Mack and threw it down for the slam.
D’Angelo Harrison, the 6’3” guard from Dulles High School (TX), put his highly-touted scoring ability on display early, with 8 points in the first three minutes of the game. He finished with 21 points to go with 6 rebounds.
Harrison showed his fearless knack for shooting the ball on the West’s first possession, launching a three from the right wing with a hand in his face and knocking it down. He was effective both off the dribble, getting to the basket, as well as from distance, which explains the 31 points per game he averaged this past season at Dulles.
The fourth recruit to participate in Houston, JaKarr Sampson of Brewster Academy (NH), added 10 points. He showed good dribbling and face-up skills in the post, which will create match-up problems for opposing defenses next season at St. John’s.
His most impressive play came on the defensive end, when he rejected UCLA-bound Norman Powell on a dunk attempt. Though called for a foul on the play, he appeared to get the clean block and showed his aggressiveness and willingness to lock down at the rim.
All four players give Johnnies fans a glimpse of the future, one that, next year, will be a very youthful and athletic bunch.
St. John’s is currently ranked as the second overall recruiting class by ESPNU, with nine overall commits, six of whom are in the ESPNU Top 100.