CHICAGO — Shamorie Ponds had gone through this process once already, working out for teams last summer before opting to head back to St. John’s for his sophomore season. This time, he is in the NBA Draft process for good, with high hopes.
Ponds averaged 19.7 points and 5.1 assists for the Red Storm, but the season didn’t end the way he hoped — instead, a play-in berth in the NCAA Tournament falling short and head coach Chris Mullin departing.
“I think Chris Mullin, he put me in a great situation, an NBA system to get me ready for this level,” Ponds said. “So I feel it benefitted me a lot. Even though our season didn’t go as expected, he pretty much put me in position to do good.”
While his spot in the draft is uncertain, a 5-11 guard who is known more as a scorer than a distributor, he believes after spending another year in college he will be selected in the first round.
“Personally, I think late first round,” Ponds said. “That’s my goal. If I go higher, then definitely. I’m definitely in better shape. My IQ has increased. I’m an underrated passer. I feel like I’m a great passer. And my main attribute is scoring.”
Ponds admitted that last year after working out he knew he had to return to school.
“I was an early entry, so as soon as I entered my name I definitely scheduled a lot of workouts,” Ponds said of last summer. “I worked out for five teams. After the workouts I sat down with the family, sat down with my coaches and went with my best decision for me.
“It was pretty much basically my coaches, the feedback that they got. I didn’t like it, so I didn’t want to keep my name in. I definitely felt like I had to increase my draft stock. And [St. John’s] was going to be better and we had more team success … [Mullin] was always my biggest critic, definitely was on me so it was something that I really needed. He was telling me all the tools that I needed, that he was hearing from teams for me to get to this level.”