In his three seasons, Shamorie Ponds helped lift a struggling St. John’s program back into the NCAA Tournament. Now his time with the Red Storm is done. The Thomas Jefferson High School (Brooklyn) product is forgoing his senior year, hiring an agent and declaring for the NBA Draft.
Ponds announced the move on his Instagram account late Thursday. The school followed with an announcement Friday morning.
“Playing for St. John’s has been nothing but amazing for me,” Ponds said in a statement. “Coming to St. John’s was one of the best decisions of my life. After speaking it over with my loved ones, I want to announce that I will be entering the 2019 NBA Draft and hiring an agent.”
The move has long been expected. Ponds explored entering the draft a year ago — without hiring an agent — and ultimately decided to return for his junior year.
“We fully support Shamorie’s decision to pursue his professional goals,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said in a statement. “Shamorie enjoyed one of the greatest careers in the history of our basketball program. It has been a true honor to coach him for the past three years and to watch him develop as a player and a person.”
The 6-1 point guard was an All-Big East first-team selection for a second straight year after averaging 19.7 points, 5.1 assists and 2.6 steals. The Red Storm (21-13) made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015, falling to Arizona State in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
At the moment, Ponds figures to be selected somewhere in the second round, according to most outlets that track the NBA Draft. He will train to prepare and it is anticipated that he will work out for NBA teams before the June 20 draft. Those workouts could have an impact on how high — or if — he is selected.
Ponds is statistically one of the best players in St. John’s history. His 1,870 points ranks fifth and is the most scored by a player in a three-season career. His 225 steals rank second in program history and his 413 assists rank sixth.
He was the 2017-18 winner of the prestigious Haggerty Award, given annually to the top player in the metropolitan area.
Junior Justin Simon has played point guard and could play that role full-time next season. How the Storm will compensate for the loss of Ponds’ scoring is another question.
Junior Mustapha Heron — who also looked at the draft last spring before transferring from Auburn to St. John’s — said last week that he has not decided whether to return for his senior season. Sophomore LJ Figueroa averaged 14.4 points in his first season with the Storm and could improve on that.
Transfers Eli Wright (Mississippi State), Ian Steere (North Carolina State), David Caraher (Houston Baptist) and Cameron Mack (Salt Lake CC) will join the team next season.