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Boys' baskeball: Polee is first recruit for fired-up Lavin

Steve Lavin spent 12 years coaching at UCLA, including seven as basketball coach, lost his job, became an analyst at ESPN, and now he's back as the new coach at St. John's and using his Southern California roots to land the City Section player of the year, Dwayne Polee Jr., from Westchester.

St. John's received Polee's letter of intent over the weekend, clearing the way for Lavin to comment.

"He's such an engaging individual," Lavin said Monday. "I developed a comfort level in a short time."

Lavin said after his hiring he tried to figure out who were the best players still available, then narrowed the list down to whom he could recruit in a short period of time. He called Westchester Coach Ed Azzam and studied Polee by video.

"The winning culture is something you want to recruit," he said. "Watching the footage and making phone calls to people I respect, there was consistent assessment he has tremendous ability and upside and has the desire to work on his game."

Lavin said he hoped to recruit at St. John's the same way he did at UCLA -- recruit from all over, including occasionally in Southern California.

"When I interviewed for the position, I shared I really felt that St. John's has a global reach similar to UCLA," he said.

As far as coming back to play UCLA on Feb. 5 at Pauley Pavilion, Lavin said, "That will be a special experience to come in as an opposing coach."

-- Eric Sondheimer

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mike ur an idiot and have no clue about NY. SJU is in Jamaica ESTATES.. Home to the Tropicana family (yes the oj people) and donald Trump..In terms of academics SJU has a direct pipeline to wallstreet.i.e. goldman sachs, JPM, most of the hedge funds and PE firms in the city and the WORLD. so please emanicpate youself from ur ignorance..


"When I interviewed for the position, I shared I really felt that St. John's has a global reach similar to UCLA," he said.

Other than the academics and the illustrious basketball history, UCLA and St. Johns have a lot of common. They are both in big cities...

That's where the comparisons end. St. Johns is a mediocre school that has no reputation outside of the state of New York. Looks like this kid was tricked by Lavin's sweet talk. Lavin will not be nearly "successful" at St. Johns as he was at UCLA. Despite being in NYC, St. Johns is a tough place to recruit at. Most NYC kids would much rather go to Syracuse, UConn, Boston College, or Pitt. Even schools like Rutgers and Seton Hall are better options. Schools like Florida, Miami, Va Tech, and West Virginia have done well recruiting NYC lately.

Lavin must have been really desperate to get back into coaching to take the St. Johns job. I hope he's living in Manhattan because Queens is about as desirable as Riverside.


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