Shamorie Ponds delivered — on everything.
The Jefferson guard didn’t wilt under heated expectations that come with being the face of Chris Mullin’s first St. John’s recruiting class. Instead he is thriving. There is no resting on his laurels. Instead there is only motivation to keep anyone from catching him or tearing him down.
“The [target] was on my back, so I had to just work every day,” Ponds said. “I know people were after me.”
No one can touch him now.
He was New York City’s best player all season, a Public School Athletic League Class AA champion, and is now state Federation winner after the Orange Waves’ 72–65 win over Aquinas Institute at the Times Union Center in Albany on March 18. The league championship and Federation title are both firsts for his East New York school.
Referees gave Ponds (16 points) a rare night off in the final when they saddled him with his fourth foul in the third quarter. Teammates Raheem Dunn and Curtis Smith took Jefferson home after Ponds carried them the night before.
Ponds was named the tournament’s most valuable player. It was just another moment in a season where the stage, the expectations, and the hype were never too big.
His demeanor was perfect for handling all of it, something that should carry over when he deals with the buzz of arriving at St. John’s.
“He’s just a cool guy,” Jefferson coach Lawrence “Bud” Pollard said. “When everyone is going 110, he is going his speed and his pace, and he is very effective.”
Ponds scored 23 points in his first game at Carnesecca Arena. He recorded 31 points and 12 rebounds at The Garden in the city title game and tallied 27 more points in a Federation semifinal win over Long Island Lutheran.
What is special is how he does it.
There are long threes, mid-range jumpers, scoop-and-spin layups using both hands, and even some old-fashioned, blue-collar put backs.
“He’s so good from all three levels — deep three, mid-range game, and also finishing moves with both hands,” Long Island Lutheran coach John Buck said. “He’s such a gifted scorer.”
But Ponds is much more than that.
His basketball intelligence and unselfishness become more and more evident each time he plays. He gets his points while also getting his teammates involved. Ponds will often defer early in games before doing whatever it takes to close out wins.
“That’s just what he does,” Pollard said. “There are some times that he get 40, 50 [points], but he likes to facilitate and follow the game plan. Then second half he puts that dagger in somebody’s heart.”
Soon Ponds’s metaphorical blades will find Big East teams’ tickers — continuing to win over the hearts of St. John’s fans.
But the low-key Ponds isn’t trying to increase the already high expectations for his time with the Red Storm. Once he puts on a St. John’s jersey, nothing that he’s already accomplished means anything in his eyes.
“College is a whole other ballgame,” he said. “I’m just going to star over from scratch, get in the gym, and work.”
Ponds displays no ego, no fear, and never any panic — there is just calm, confidence, and clear results.