Aug. 17, 2011
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QUEENS, N.Y. -
Likely the only Top 100 college basketball recruit with a 96 m.p.h. heater, Amir Garrett (Los Angeles, Calif./Findlay Prep. (Nev.) is a young athlete with a lot of options. An outstanding southpaw small forward on the hardwood and an accomplished left-handed pitcher on the diamond, Garrett garnered interest from many college basketball programs and numerous Major League Baseball scouts as an elite, multisport prep competitor.
But instead of having to choose between his two sports loves, Garrett will get the chance to participate in both. Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd Round on June 7, signed hours before the MLB deadline on Aug. 15 and rewarded for his promise of prowess with a handsome $1 million bonus, Garrett will begin his professional baseball dream next summer as a member of the Reds' minor league system. With a contract that allows him to play collegiate basketball and NCAA rules that concur (bylaw below), Garrett is juiced up to play for the Johnnies, and looks to start the fall semester on the St. John's Queens campus in a few short weeks. In fact, in accordance with NCAA regulations (interp. below), the Reds will even be footing the bill for Garrett's schooling, but he will still count toward the program's limit of 13 scholarships.
"I consider this a great opportunity, because not everyone gets to play two sports they love. It's great to be able to play both at an elite level, professional baseball and BIG EAST basketball," said Garrett. "I am excited to play in the Reds' organization, but definitely excited to play at St. John's. I'll be able to handle business on campus during the school year, and then for Cincinnati."
"We have encouraged Amir to continue working to develop into the best basketball and baseball player he is capable of becoming. His talent, competitive nature and determination has allowed him to have the opportunity to pursue his goals of competing at the highest level of two sports," said St. John's head coach Steve Lavin. "He is a special talent. His length, explosiveness, quickness, and highly-skilled game make him an ideal fit for our system of play. Amir was clearly the most tenacious prospect that we evaluated in the 2011 recruiting class and his highly competitive nature will be critical as we build our program."
"We're pretty excited because [Garrett's] an All-American basketball player who is going to a great school at St. John's," Chris Buckley, Reds Senior Director of Amateur Scouting, told MLB.com.
The 6-6, 190-pound Garrett is rated as high as the nation's No. 68 overall player and the No. 15 small forward by recruiting services. With superior athleticism and a prototypical frame, Garrett is a tenacious offensive threat who specializes in transition with hard drives to the rim that result in show-stopping dunks. A hard-nosed defender who has a penchant for swatting away shots, Garrett transferred to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) for his final season and averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds on a team that would go 28-4, earn a Top 25 national ranking and yield four NCAA Division I prospects. Garrett's coach at Findlay was Mike Peck. His travel teams were Double Pump and Belmont Shore.
As a junior, he led Leuzinger High (Lawndale, Calif.) to the California Interscholastic Federation SS Division I-A championship in 2009-10, averaging 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He was named CIF SS Division I-A Co-Player of the Year and tabbed for the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports all-state team. The Long Beach Press-Telegram named Garrett to its 2010-11 "Best in the West" First Team, along with fellow St. John's incoming freshman Norvel Pelle.
Lavin's 2011-12 St. John's squad will feature the consensus No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, but will be the youngest in 104 years on the STJ hardwood and will rank among the youngest in NCAA Division I history. For Lavin, the 2011-12 group marks the fourth time in his career he has assembled a top three class - in 1998 and 2001 Lavin recruited the No. 1 class in the nation while at UCLA, and his 1997 class ranked second nationally.
With one returning scholarship letterwinner in junior Malik Stith, the Red Storm will feature at least nine newcomers, a group comprised of seven freshmen, one sophomore and one junior. STJ will look to its highly-rated 2011-12 recruiting class - featuring six recruits ranked in the Top 100 in the nation - to assist in replacing 96.3 percent of its scoring and 97.8 percent of its rebounding in the coming season.
Fans can visit the new RedStormTix.com to make a deposit or request St.John's 2011-12 season ticket information, which will be available this month. Student Season Tickets are now available for $99, and order forms can be found on RedStormTix.com or at the Carnesecca Arena Ticket Office. Fans can join the Red White Club by visiting RedStormSports.com and clicking on the link to "Giving" to visit the all-new Red White website.
12.1.3 Amateur Status If Professional In Another Sport
A professional athlete in one sport may represent a member institution in a different sport and may receive institutional financial assistance in the second sport. (Revised: 4/27/06 effective 8/1/06).
Official NCAA Interpretation Pertaining To Professional Multisport Athletes/Student-Athletes
Educational Expenses Received as a Part of an Employment Contract (I)
Date Published: August 23, 2000
Item Ref: 2
An individual who receives educational expenses from a professional sports organization as a part of an employment contract does not jeopardize intercollegiate eligibility in all sports, inasmuch as such educational expenses are considered to be employment compensation as opposed to financial aid from an impermissible outside source. [References: NCAA Bylaws 15.01.3 (financial aid not administered by institution); 184.108.40.206.2 (eligibility effects of improper aid from outside organization) and 220.127.116.11 (institutional financial aid to a professional athlete)].