Nov. 13, 2008
QUEENS, N.Y. -
St. John's women's basketball coach Kim Barnes Arico announced Thursday that four players from the New York Metropolitan area will be joining the Red Storm for the 2009-10 academic year, as Jennifer Blanding, Amanda Burakoski, Nadirah McKenith and Eugeneia McPherson signed National Letters of Intent.
"The 2009-10 signing class is one of our strongest ever," Barnes Arico said. "My assistants, under the direction of Recruiting Coordinator and Associate Head Coach Joe Tartamella, did an outstanding job of recruiting local talent to St. John's University. We were not only able to sign four outstanding basketball players, but we were able to sign four young ladies that grew up within 20 miles of the University. It has always been our goal to attract the best players in the area to our program and University.
"These young women believe that they, along with our returning team, can bring a championship to St. John's. This class fills the needs of our team as we look to take the next step forward as a program. I truly look forward to coaching each one of these young ladies."
Jennifer Blanding 6-3 C Notre Dame Prep (MA)
Out of Notre Dame Prep, Blanding is a highly-talented center who possesses a strong knowledge of the game. Her presence in the low post will make an immediate impact for the Red Storm in 2009-10, as she can score over both shoulders, is a strong defender and passer, and is mobile and athletic. Blanding is ranked 15th in the Northeast Class of 2009 on BigAppleRecruiting.com, and ESPN.com lists her as the 25th-best player at her position. A Brooklyn, N.Y., native, she chose St. John's over American, Duquesne, Morgan State, Rutgers and Syracuse.
"With her size and strength, Jennifer will give our program a dimension we haven't had in some time," Barnes Arico said. "Jennifer is a true center with great hands and finishing ability."
Amanda Burakoski 6-0 G The Mary Louis Academy
Rated the 66th-best player in the country and the 14th-best at her position on ESPN.com, Burakoski is an extremely well-rounded player who possesses tremendous offensive ability and is a strong rebounder. Out of The Mary Louis Academy in Queens, she averaged 16 points and three steals per game in her junior campaign, and scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 12, 2007, against Kellenberg High. Burakoski capped the year scoring 22 points in the Brooklyn/Queens semifinals and was an all-city honorable mention selection. A two-time first-team All-Queens selection by the Daily News and Times Ledger, she averaged 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 steals per game her sophomore season, including posting a triple-double (33 points, 15 rebounds, 10 steals) against Bishop Kearney. For her efforts, Burakoski was a Daily News City Player of the Year candidate.
"Amanda is one of the top shooters in the class of 2009," Barnes Arico said. "She has an unbelievable release and, with her size, she can score over most people. Along with Amanda's ability to shoot, she has great court vision and her passes can make those around her better."
Nadirah McKenith 5-7 G University High
Heralded as the top point guard in the state as a sophomore and junior, McKenith is a playmaker who is a strong ball handler and a scoring threat from all areas on the floor. Out of University High School in Newark, N.J., McKenith led her squad to a 27-4 slate in 2007-08 and an Essex County Tournament championship, in addition to a New Jersey Group I Championship title. She handed out six assists and averaged 11.0 points per game her junior campaign. ESPN.com ranks her the 39th-best point guard in the country for the class of 2009, and her high school team is ranked 14th in the nation in the ESPN High Elite Top 25 Preseason Poll. In her sophomore campaign, she led University to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions title and broke the record for assists with 13 in the title game. A two-time All-Essex County selection, and a 2007-08 second team all-state and Star Ledger All-Defensive team honoree, she enters her senior campaign with 965 career points.
"I believe Nadirah will establish herself as one of the best high school point guards in the country this year," said Barnes Arico. "Nadirah is an exceptional ball handler and will dazzle the crowd with an array of no-look passes. With the guidance of her high school coach Felecia Oliver, Nadirah has taken steps every season to improve her game, as well as her leadership qualities. She is going to be a star at St. John's and in the BIG EAST Conference."
Eugeneia McPherson 5-8 G North Babylon High
A dynamic guard out of North Babylon High in Long Island, N.Y., McPherson is a solid all-around player who will contribute immediately to the Red Storm. Last season, she led her team to a 21-6 record and a Long Island Class AA Championship title. She averaged 22.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.7 steals and 3.5 assists per game, including 25.7 ppg in postseason play. She was key in her team's run to the state championship game, posting 31 points in the semifinals against Corcaran while adding 32 points in the title game against Rush Henrietta. McPherson, who enters her senior campaign with 1,866 career points, is a two-time first team All-Long Island and All-Suffolk County selection, in addition to being a 2007-08 first team all-state honoree. ESPN.com ranks her the 49th-best guard in the country for the class of 2009
"Eugeneia is a special young lady and I truly look forward to coaching her," said Barnes Arico. "Eugeneia is soft spoken off the court, but once she steps within the lines, she is one of the fiercest competitors around. She is one of the top players in the state of New York. She is a winner and will do whatever is takes to be successful, whether that is taking a three, going to the basket for an and-one or taking a charge to win the game."