The talk of St. John’s, ironically, has been more about something between the chalk lines on the baseball diamond than anything on the hardwood.
The First Year Major League Baseball Player Draft got underway Monday night and Amir Garrett, the athletic swingman from Findlay Prep (NV) who is signed to play basketball with the Red Storm, was anxiously awaiting the call. He would have to wait until Tuesday to hear his name, but in the 22nd round, with the 685th overall pick, he heard it: “The Cincinnati Reds select Amir Garrett, a left-handed pitcher from Findlay Prep, Nevada.”
“Man all I can say is its a blessing,” Garrett told JohnnyJungle.com after he got the news. “It’s just a great feeling to get a call like that. I give glory to God. That’s all I can do.”
And, with that, Garrett is faced with possibly the biggest decision of his young life.
Two-sport athletes come along every once in a while, but Garrett’s case is particularly intriguing for one reason: as a lefty pitcher, he hasn’t thrown in a live game since June 2010.
But, after two months getting back into baseball shape, he was hitting in the mid-90s on his fastball and scouts were impressed with the potential of the 6’5” California native.
The Decision At Hand
Though there is still much to be proven on the diamond for Garrett, his upside could be tremendous. Already reportedly hitting the mid-90s on his fastball, his ceiling is high. His skill set is something that coaches can mold and develop because he already has natural physical gifts that cannot be taught. Because he is of such a rare size and build, he has excelled in two sports, which speaks to his overall athleticism and versatility.
We have seen two sport athletes in college, including Chicago Bears lineman Julius Peppers, who played football and basketball at North Carolina, and NFL great Tony Gonzalez, who did the same at California.
So, it would seem that Garrett could continue pitching at St. John’s, which has a well-regarded program, while still playing basketball. But, in response to a fan’s question on his Twitter page last night, Garrett has made it clear that will not happen, bluntly saying, “I’m not playing baseball at St. John’s.”
In that same conversation, when the fan said “See you at MSG in ’11-’12”, Garrett responded with “I’ll be there.” He added this evening, in response to Providence commit Kiwi Gardner, something that may be comforting to fans who would like to see him in Queens next season.
Those few hints are the latest on Amir Garrett’s decision, indicating that he is coming to St. John’s, despite this selection in the MLB Draft. But is a conversational statement on Twitter enough to set it in stone? With the whirlwind of rumors surrounding the situation, Garrett says he has still yet to make a definitive decision.
As far as his basketball career, he would be in a good position if he does indeed come to the Red Storm. He is already a Top 100 player in the Class of 2011 and, despite not necessarily being the most publicized recruit in the incoming class, indications are that he will be an integral part of the Red Storm gameplan next season.
At 6’5” and incredibly athletic, he is the prototypical player for Lavin’s up-tempo, defense-generating-offense approach. He may not be an NBA prospect right now, but with a few years under Lavin’s tutelage, his name could pop up on some draft boards.
He is still developing his mid-range game offensively, but he finishes at the rim with authority and flash, and has a defensive motor that runs without end.
But his road to professional basketball could be nearly as tough, for different reasons than his possible baseball path.
If he chooses to play basketball at St. John’s next season, he will be competing against top talent for playing time. Once he wins that playing time, he has to prove himself on the national stage, under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. But, to his credit, confidence doesn’t seem to be a problem for the multifaceted Garrett. In recent weeks, he has taken to his Twitter page to express the excitement he feels to come to St. John’s.
The other major incentive for Garrett to attend St. John’s is the prospect of getting an education. With his basketball scholarship, he has the opportunity for to get a degree with playing for the Red Storm. That could be something that factors into his decision, when that time comes.
He has until August 15th to sign with the Reds. Check back to JohnnyJungle.com for any breaking news on his decision.