BY CARMINE CARCIERI
One of the most electric, energized events of the high school basketball summer circuit, the Under Armour Elite 24 All-Star Game in Brooklyn, will feature a handful of interesting prospects that will be heavily courted by head coach Chris Mullin and the St. John’s basketball program over the next six to 12 months.
Former Christ The King prospect, Rawle Alkins, Queens native Hamidou Diallo, scorer Shamorie Ponds, dominate point guard Trevon Duval, Oak Hill Academy star Mario Kegler and Texas native Billy Preston have all received offers from the Johnnies and will have a chance to prove themselves to the team scouts at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2 on the East River this weekend.
The All-Star Game, which has been held at Rucker Park in Harlem in the years past, will be broadcasted on ESPNU on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with team EZ Pass facing off against Team Doo Be Doo. Under Armour will also host a skills night on Friday where the high school stars will face off in a dunk contest and three-point shootout.
“When this game was created 10 years ago, the idea was to give high school basketball players an opportunity to experience the energy and spirit of authentic playground basketball,” said Kris Stone, Elite 24 founder and director of basketball sports marketing at Under Armour, in an interview with Footwear News.
The event has done more than that as three number one NBA draft picks have participated in the Under Armour Elite game over the years while five players have been selected to represent their conference in the NBA All-Star game.
Alkins (ranked 22nd in class of 2016), Diallo (30th in class of 2017), Ponds (66th in class of 2016), Duval (13th in class of 2017), Kegler (35th in class of 2016) and Preston (20th in class of 2017), who are just six of 24 top-100 prospects participating in the game, not only have the chance to play high-quality major college basketball in Queens, but have the talent to develop and transform into NBA players.
The Johnnies have multiple former student-athletes currently in the NBA, like JaKarr Sampson, Moe Harkless and Sir’Dominic Pointer, but to bring in more potential game changers that can please an intense fan base and bring the spotlight back to Carnesecca Arena would be a great way for Mullin to start a new era.
Mullin has made “bucket getter,” Ponds, and physical guard, Alkins, high priorities in 2016 while Duval is a hot commodity for schools all over the country in 2017. Kegler, Preston and Diallo seem to be long shots with Connecticut likely having the upper hand on Diallo.
Ponds, who will visit the school at the end of the month, seems to be the most realistic option for St. John’s as the team is selling him on the chance to be the face of New York City.
With the Red Storm prioritizing guard play and an up-tempo, versatile offense, the idea of landing just one of these skilled youngsters would be music to Mullin’s ears and would give the team a chance to make a run in a future NCAA Tournament.