A pair of local college commits stood out at the Jordan Brand Classic boys basketball game Friday night at Barclays Center.
Hofstra-bound guard Elijah Pemberton scored 22 points and was named Team East’s MVP in the regional game, and Brooklyn’s Shamorie Ponds, who is committed to St. John’s, scored 17 points in the national game.
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Going against Long Island Lutheran’s Devonte Green (nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds, seven assists) and Team New York, Pemberton displayed a smooth shooting stroke, steady presence and noteworthy athleticism. The 6-4, 205-pound guard/forward shot 9-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-4 from long range, and grabbed five rebounds.
His team won, 148-128.
Pemberton said seeing Juan’ya Green’s development under Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich influenced his commitment. Green, a 6-2 guard, has spent the last few days competing in front of NBA scouts at the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia.
“I made a perfect choice in my mind,” said Pemberton, a Middletown, Connecticut, resident. “A lot of people said you could have went higher, you could have went high-major. But I believe that the coaching staff with Speedy (Claxton), coach Mihalich, coach (Mike) Farrelly, they’re going to develop me into something.”
Claxton, of course, played seven seasons in the NBA after graduating from Hofstra.
“He went to Hofstra and played in the league,” Pemberton said. “I’ve got somebody in my ear constantly who did it. To reach my goal I’ve got to constantly hear from somebody who did it.”
Ponds scored 15 of his 17 points after halftime in the West’s 131-117 loss to the East. After missing four of his first five shots, the 6-1 guard knocked down six of his next 10 field-goal attempts.
“I just tried to stay more aggressive because the first half I was shying away from the ball,” he said.
Ponds, who led Thomas Jefferson (Brooklyn) to a State Federation title this year, said he followed closely as St. John’s went 8-24 in Chris Mullin’s first season.
“I pretty much went to every home game they had, pretty much kicking it in the locker room,” he said. “We’re just trying to get there. It’s a bond.”