Dec. 21, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's head coach Steve Lavin announced Wednesday morning that men's basketball prospect Amir Garretthas achieved initial eligibility requirements as certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center and has enrolled immediately at St. John's University. He will begin collegiate coursework at St. John's when the spring semester begins on Jan. 18, and is eligible to participate in all team activities immediately, including practices and St. John's pre-Christmas tilt with Texas Pan-American on Wednesday, Dec. 21 (7 p.m., ESPN3).
"We are pleased to welcome Amir to our Johnnies basketball family. We appreciate his unwavering commitment to the program we are building here at St. John's," said Lavin. "Amir is a person of strong character and an outstanding basketball player. His length, explosiveness, quickness and highly-skilled game make him an ideal fit for our system of play. Amir was the most tenacious competitor that we evaluated in the 2011 recruiting class and his fierce will to win is going to be a critical asset as our team prepares for the BIG EAST conference schedule."
"The fans have been supportive, they've been telling me to keep my head up. That's what kept me going, kept me motivated. Coach Lavin and the whole coaching staff has been supportive, they told me to keep my head up, not to give up, and I just kept the faith since day one. I just kept going forward to reach my goal to get [to St. John's] and now I'm here so that's all that matters," said Garrett, who completed additional coursework at Bridgton Academy (Maine) while participating with coach Whit Lesure's prep squad. "I owe a lot to the fans; they kept me going and motivated. It's crazy to see that I'm finally here after all the stuff I've been going through. It's just a blessing."
Garrett was declared a non-qualifier by the NCAA on Sept. 14, and enrolled at Bridgton Academy for the fall 2011 semester to fulfill initial eligibility requirements.
Likely the only Top 100 college basketball recruit with a 96 m.p.h. heater, Garrett is an outstanding southpaw small forward on the hardwood and an accomplished left-handed pitcher on the diamond. He 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 this 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, the Reds will pay for Garrett's schooling, but he will still count toward the St. John's basketball program's limit of 13 scholarships. "We have encouraged Amir to continue developing into the best basketball and baseball player he is capable of becoming. His skill, 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 Lavin.
"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, Cincinnati Reds Senior Director of Amateur Scouting, told MLB.com.
The 6-6, 190-pound Garrett was rated as high as the nation's No. 68 overall player and the No. 15 small forward of the Class of 2011 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 senior 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.
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.
Freshman Swingman Amir Garrett Quotes
On arriving at St. John's:
"I feel great. Going through the process, I'm just happy to be here with my new family. Everybody here's been supportive, and it feels good."
On connection with St. John's and Coach Lavin:
"It's been great. The fans have been supportive, they've been telling me to keep my head up. That's what kept me going, kept me motivated. Coach Lavin and the whole coaching staff has been supportive, they told me to keep my head up, not to give up, and I just kept the faith since day one, just kept going forward to reach my goal to get [to St. John's] and now I'm here so that's all that matters. I owe a lot to the fans; they kept me going and motivated. It's crazy to see that I'm finally here after all the stuff I've been going through, it's just a blessing."
On if the house is packed tonight:
"It would mean a lot, everybody coming. I would love it."
On an early Christmas present:
"I promised everybody that I would be here by this time, for my first game against Texas-Pan American and I'm here."