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L.A.'s Dwayne Polee Jr. signs with St. John's

New St. John's coach Steve Lavin hasn't shown he can keep New York high school stars home yet, but he was able to tap his roots to import Los Angeles City Section player of the year Dwayne Polee Jr., who has signed a national letter of intent with the Red Storm, the school announced yesterday.

Polee is a 6-7, 190-pound small forward who led Westchester High to its second straight California Division I state title with a 32-3 record. An athletic leaper, Polee averaged 20.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game as a senior. He's considered a finisher at the rim and a player who has a mid-range game

"I am so excited to be coming to St. John's, and I am really excited to help make the Garden an exciting place to be again," Polee said in a statement. "Coach Lavin was very straightforward with me throughout the process, and I believe that he and the staff at St. John's can really make me the best player I can be."

If basketball pedigree means anything, Polee has the right genes. His father, Dwayne Sr., played for UNLV and Pepperdine, and former Memphis State star Larry Kenon, who had a seven-year NBA career, is the brother of Polee's mother, Yolanda.

Westchester coach Ed Azzam called Polee "one of the best athletes I have ever coached. In his next couple years as a collegian, I believe he has a chance to be an all-American."

If Polee lives up to his billing as Lavin's first recruit to St. John's, it might go a long way to reinforcing his coaching credibility after seven years in the broadcast booth.

New York Sports