Friday, May 30, 2014

Delarosa Envisions Instant Impact

Making good on the consensus suggestion that he select a program not for the brand name but for the necessity of his role, 6-foot-11 Christ The King product Adonis Delarosa chose St. John's over traditional high-major powers such as Miami and Alabama.

One of the few local products on St. John's roster, Delarosa will help fill an immediate void in the low post.

"I could see myself as a scoring big, someone who could score on the low blocks," said Delarosa, who scored 14 points while proving himself virtually immovable for Team Inspire during the Frankie Williams Charity Classic yesterday.

"They don't have a big low post presence right now, automatically they need someone who is not only going to score but create the defensive collapse and send the double. That leaves shooters like D'Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene open for shots. Right away, I feel I can contribute by putting some points on the board from the low blocks."

St. John's frontline thinned out following the departure of NBA draft prospect JaKarr Sampson.

Delarosa, who averaged 12 points and 12 rebounds alongside Frankie Williams All-Star game MVP Rawle Atkins (34 points) at Christ The King, will add depth alongside JUCO transfer Keith Thomas, menacing shot blocker Chris Obeka and Christian Jones.

The graduation of Orlando Sanchez and Godsgift Achiuwa opens up the potential for immediate playing time. Delarosa has whittled down the 300-pound frame he once played at. Both Delarosa and Thomas will add a dose of size and promising interior proficiency. Delarosa must increase his quickness and become lighter on his feet.

Thomas, an athletic 6-foot-8 forward, averaged 15.3 points and an NJCAA-best 15.7 rebounds at Westchester Community College last year.

Authoring efficiency, as evidenced by a 65.4 percent field goal percentage, the 23-year-old Thomas helped pioneer the Vikes to a 28-4 record and NJCAA national tournament berth for the first time since 1996.

Thomas, who had his share of academic and legal issues in the past, graduated from Westchester this month.

 Many likened Thomas to a more athletic version of Justin Brownlee, a former Johnnie forward known for his jack-of-all-trades adaptability.

"It's hard to pinpoint Keith's best attribute as a player and that's became he's always working on all components of his game," explained WCC head coach Tyrone Mushatt, who played at St. Raymond's under the legendary Gary DeCesare.

"He's always in the gym. The best part about him though, is that he doesn't take prisoners. It doesn't matter who you are playing."

Delarosa plied his trade against a star-spangled lineup last night at Theodore Community Center, battling future Big East opponents such as Angel Delgado, Isaiah Whitehead, and high-flying swingman Desi Rodriguez.

"I know most of these guys, I'm going to be playing against them next year," Delarosa said.

"Most of these guys are going to Seton Hall like Isaiah, Desi, and Angel (Delgado), who will be probably be guarding me next year. I just came at them and they know what they're in for next year."

Unlike Delarosa, Thomas faded into obscurity before resuscitating his career this past season.

He returned to relevance with a titanic freshman season. Thomas became Westchester's first Player of the Year since former South Florida forward/center and current professional Jarrid Famous.

Following a long sabbatical in which he balanced the rigors of college academics with several part-time jobs, Thomas' game earned the interest of St. John's, Fordham, Florida State, Dayton, Memphis, Miami, South Florida, and Loyola-Chicago.

Both Fordham and St. John's were moving at a relentless pace, trying to keep him in New York.

Thomas was forced to cancel his Miami visit at the 11th hour.

After narrowing it down to South Florida, St. John's, Fordham, and Loyola, Mushatt detailed Thomas on the benefits of staying local. He'd have the opportunity to infuse Lavin's offense with strength and ferocity on the glass.

Thomas played just one year of high school basketball, surfacing as one of Section 1's elite passing big men.

Providing an inside presence alongside crafty left-handed guard Jordan Moody, Thomas helped pilot Yorktown High School (N.Y.) to a Section 1 Final Four berth at the County Center.

Last night featured plenty of Westchester-area signess/prospects, who've been staples at the County Center. The street ball flair, high-horsepower attack and high-flying finishes employed by both teams had the place feeling more Rucker Park than anything.

With Iona Prep guard Ty Jerome commandeering the ball handling duties, the high-low game was established with Adonis setting up shop inside. He earned several trips to the line. His size, as well as the difficulty smaller bigs encountered trying to front the 275-pound gargantuan, were notable.

The Johnnies don't have a sudden infusion of local flavor, but nabbing Delarosa and Thomas adds homegrown talent to a roster that contained just one New York native, Queens product Kadim Ndiaye, last season.

Thomas is from Mount Vernon, regal basketball real estate that's produced the likes of Ben Gordon, Keith Benjamin (PITT), Dexter Gray (St. John's/Iona), Jon Mitchell (Florida/Rutgers), Mike Colburn (Rutgers), Chris Lowe (UMass), Sherrod Wright (George Mason),  Jabarie Hinds (West Virginia/UMASS), and myriad others.

Delarosa, however, is the first in-city recruit to choose the Johnnies since Maurice Harkless.

"The thing that attracted me the most is, I'm going to be playing alongside my brother (former FIU big man Joey Delarosa)," he explained.

"Also, I am from New York. I would have everybody from New York supporting me. Also, we play on the biggest stage in America, Madison Square Garden."