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Canarsie-native Alkins picks Arizona over St. John’s

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Rawle Alkins will not be returning home to play college basketball.

The former Christ the King star and Canarsie native passed on the chance to return to New York City and play at St. John’s when he verbally committed to Arizona on ESPN on March 7. Alkins picked Coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats over the Red Storm, North Carolina, North Carolina State, and University of Nevada Las Vegas. He let out a sigh of relief after the words Arizona left his lips.

“It’s a relief, getting that stuff away,” Alkins said on the broadcast.

Arizona came on strong for the 6-foot-4 Alkins, who is currently playing at North Carolina’s Word of God Academy. The Wildcats were a late addition to the five-star recruit’s final list of suitors, but it was the last team standing. Arizona is 24–7 and currently ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25. Alkins credited his decisions to the relationship he forged with Miller and assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson.

“One thing when I took that college visit that really stuck with me was the fact that winning was the only option with them,” Alkins said. “Coach Miller just stresses winning.”

Alkins, sporting a gray suit and Arizona logo-emblazoned blue tie, said he didn’t realize how far basketball could get him until he was a freshman at Christ the King guarding current Fordham guard Jon Sereve — then a senior — at practice with then-Rams coach Tom Pecora in attendance. Fordham offered him a scholarship on the spot.

“From there I just said, ‘Wow. I can do something with the game of basketball,’ ” Alkins said.

He won three straight Catholic High School Athletic Association Class Intersectional titles with Christ the King and two state Federation crowns. Alkins was the league’s regular-season and playoff Most Valuable Player as a junior. ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi compared his game to former New York City greats Lance Stephenson and Isaiah Whitehead.

“This guy is powerful, he’s sturdy, he uses the body to score, and his skills are getting better,” Biancardi said on the air.

St. John’s will not be short on local talent next season — even with Alkins heading West. Jefferson guard Shamorie Ponds, junior college standout Bashir Ahmed of The Bronx, and German wing Richard Freudenberg highlight next season’s class. The Red Storm has the top recruiting class in the Big East, according to 247Sports.com’s composite team rankings. Coach Chris Mullin and his staff are still in the mix for five-star recruits Thon Maker and Terrance Ferguson.

Now Alkins will focus on getting ready to make an immediate impact at Arizona. He has plans on dominating the Pac-12 conference.

“I’m in the gym. I’m working out, trying to get the college ready body,” Alkins said. “I don’t want to be a freshman that sits on the bench cheering for the team. I want to be one of the impact freshman the [pundits] talk about at the beginning of the year.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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