More on the newest Hawk

Last Friday, St. Joe's got their first commitment in a critical 2014 recruiting class when Cardinal Hayes (NY) point guard Shavar Newkirk pledged to Phil Martelli and the Hawks. Inside, we break down his game and what it could mean for St. Joe's moving forward.

This spring and summer, it was clear that Saint Joseph's was really focusing in on just a few point guards in the 2014 recruiting class. Shavar Newkirk, Tarin Smith, Antonio Woods, and Jarvis Garrett were four rising seniors monitored closely on the travel circuit over the past several months. Newkirk's commitment last Friday gave the Hawk coaching staff one of their top targets at the point.

Newkirk, who plays for head coach Joe Lods at Cardinal Hayes, runs with Team Scan on the AAU circuit. Team Scan is loaded with high-major, including elite high-major talent. Chris McCullough, Terry Larrier, Cheick Diallo, and Rashard Figures were just four of Shavar's running mates on Scan.

The 5'11 Newkirk had a strong spring and summer with Team Scan. During regular-season Nike EYBL play, Shavar averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest. During the Peach Jam, he averaged 6.7 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds a game.

One of Shavar's greatest assets is his ability to go rim-to-rim, and in doing so, either get easy buckets for himself, for teammates, or earn trips to the free throw line. In 23 EYBL games, he shot 111 free throws, knocking down 76, at a rate of 69%.

When I spoke with Joe Lods last week, he stressed how tough Shavar was on the defensive side of the ball, with his speed aiding his ability to pressure the ball. That defensive prowess is evident in his 1.7 steals per game that he averaged in EYBL play.

On the EYBL circuit, Shavar was routinely matched up against high-major point guard commits and targets. In those settings, he turned in some of his best games. Against Team Takeover, Newkirk matched up against Georgetown commit Tre Campbell and showed well. In a 62-52 loss, Shavar had 20 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds. Against a Houston Hoops team that features UNC commit Justin Jackson and elite high-major targets Kelly Oubre and Justise Winslow, Shavar had 20 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Shavar Newkirk's relationship with head coach Phil Martelli and early playing time were two major factors in his decision. When Shavar arrives on Hawk Hill next year, Chris Wilson will be a senior and Kyle Molock will be a sophomore.

With Newkirk already in the fold for 2014, the Hawks have some of the building blocks for future success in place. In addition to Shavar, Kyle, and Chris, the Hawks will have West Virginia transfer Aaron Brown at the two-guard spot and DeAndre Bembry on the wing.

St. Joe's likely has three more scholarships to use in the 2014 class. Another scoring guard and a shot-blocking presence in the middle seem to be two of the main target areas at this juncture.

Quality guard play is so important in college basketball if a team is going to find any semblance of success. The signing of Shavar Newkirk last weeks helped solidify St. Joe's backcourt for the years to come

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