Despite St. John’s not having a win in Big East play, that shouldn’t change how Shamorie Ponds is viewed in NBA Draft circles.
As St. John’s continues to lose close game after close game, it gets closer to thinking that this could be one of the worst teams in the school’s history. As the season winds down, NBA Draft talk will start to commence and the focus of the draft in terms of Red Storm players should be solely around Shamorie Ponds.
As of right now, you will not find a two-round mock draft that has Ponds listed as an NBA Draft selection. But, the question that has to be answered is his stock affected by the Red Storm’s lack of success in Big East play?
One of the main reasons is how much Ponds has had to carry the team from an offensive standpoint. Without Marcus LoVett in the lineup, that puts more of the pressure on Ponds to be the main scorer while Justin Simon has become the main facilitator in terms of assists.
While Simon leads the team in assists with 112, Ponds isn’t too far behind with 104 and has already surpassed his total from his freshman season (102). He is trying to get his teammates involved in the offense and that is a good sign because that’s what Chris Mullin and his staff stressed at the beginning of the season.
Plus, his 55 steals on defense are 13 steals shy of last year’s total (68), so he should be able to pass that number if healthy. St. John’s hasn’t won many games, but when you watch them play against the top Big East teams, they can get an opposing backcourt out of rhythm with their ability to draw steals.
On Tuesday night, Ponds had 31 points against No. 6 Xavier, which gave him three games this season of 30 or more points. One of those games was back on January 13 when he had 37 points against No. 1 Villanova. Yes, both of those games ended in losses for the Red Storm, but it shows Ponds has shown up when the lights shine the brightest.
Another thing that the Xavier game should show scouts is that Ponds has the ability to bounce back after a bad game. In the game prior to that against Butler, Ponds did not make a single shot on 12 attempts and finished with two points. However, that performance did not stop him from having an aggressive mindset on the court.
If there’s one aspect of Ponds’ game that has struggled this season, it is the three-point shot. So far, the sophomore guard is only shooting 21.5 percent from beyond the arc, which is a significant dropoff from last year (37.5 percent).
In an era of basketball where the three-pointer is highly valued, that is a bad percentage. Of course, there are times where Ponds takes a lot of deep three-pointers that don’t have a high percentage of going into the basket, so shot selection could use some improvement.
To show that team success shouldn’t be that big of an indicator in a player’s draft stock, take a look at Maurice Harkless for examples. Back in 2011-12, Harkless averaged 15.5 points per game and 8.6 boards per game for a team that went 13-19 (6-12 in Big East). Still, Harkless was selected with the 15th pick in the June 2012 NBA Draft.
At the same time, it might be valuable for Ponds to come back next season and try to boost his draft stock with a team that should have more depth and an opportunity to win in the Big East. But, at the same time, if Ponds feels the need to go professional, you wouldn’t argue with that decision either
Ponds’ decision to stay or go will be one to watch this spring as it will have an effect on how the Red Storm do in 2018-19. While the team may be struggling now, it is fun to watch him attack the basket because he’s tough to stop when he can get to the rim. Don’t dismiss his success despite the team not having many positives right now.
[sc name=”SJU Link Next” link=”https://elitesportsny.com/2018/01/27/st-johns-gets-first-look-at-butler-in-2017-18/” text=”The Johnnies And the Bulldogs Turned Out Wildly”