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Leuzinger High's Amir Garrett to debut for St. John's tonight

December 21, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Lawndale Leuzinger High product Amir Garrett is scheduled to debut for St. John's University tonight against Texas Pan-American.

The game culminates a lengthy journey for Garrett, a 6-foot-7 forward who left Leuzinger to play at prestigious Findlay Prep in Nevada, only to come up short of NCAA academic requirements at St. John's, Coach Steve Lavin said.

That required work at a prep school, and Garrett's academic improvement allowed him to enroll at St. John's early Wednesday.

"He's like a Cameron Dollar or Earl Watson when I compare him to the most tenacious, fierce will-to-win players I've ever coached," said Lavin, the former UCLA coach currently on a leave of absence as he recovers from prostate cancer surgery. "He's a slasher, a rebounder, but also a facilitator who enjoys the pass."

Garrett also was a standout prep pitcher, a left-hander who received a million-dollar-plus signing bonus from the Cincinnati Reds.

Lavin said Garrett's addition comes at an opportune time for St. John's after losing a transfer and preparing for Big East Conference  play to start next week against Providence.

"He's a Cuttino Mobley, Stacey Augmon type, where they were at this point in their careers," Lavin said. "Great timing."

-- Lance Pugmire