Hawks secure commitment from 2016 forward

With the Early Signing Period upon us, St. Joe's was still standing pat at just one 2016 commitment. That changed on Tuesday morning when news broke that 6'7 Pomfret (CT) and NY Jayhawks forward Gerald Blount offered up a commitment to head coach Phil Martelli. I spoke with Pomfret head coach Joe Kremer about his senior forward. Get the full scoop inside.

St. Joe's has been stuck on one 2016 commitment since May, when St. Thomas More (CT) wing Charles Brown committed early to St. Joe's. In the months since, new names have emerged and then subsequently dropped off the radar. In the span of three days last week, the Hawks watched two of their primary targets, Arnaldo Toro and Kieran Hayward, commit elsewhere. The Hawk coaching staff was looking for, hoping for, good news. And they got that Tuesday morning.

Anyone that closely reads this site knows that Gerald Blount's name is not a new one. Assistant coach Dave Duda and head coach Phil Martelli watched Blount this spring and summer with the NY Jayhawks. Initially the Hawks were recruiting his AAU teammate, Mamadou Diarra. Diarro committed early to UConn, but Blount caught their eye in the process. After tracking him in July, Martelli went up to Connecticut on September 19th and offered Blount a scholarship.

On Wednesday, I spoke with his head coach at Pomfret, Joe Kremer. He had quite a bit to say about the 6'7, 225-pound forward. "First of all, Gerald is a great young man. Thoughtful, bright, and inquisitive. He has a natural intelligence that shines through in his classwork," Kremer began. That intelligence also carries onto the basketball court, where Kremer said Blount "has a very high basketball IQ and ceiling."

On the court, Coach Kremer said that Gerald's game is "rapidly developing." The term late-bloomer gets thrown around loosely, but Kremer believes that that is exactly what Blount is. "He did not start playing basketball until 9th grade, so there are many players with hundreds of thousands of more shots up than him. He's catching up to them."

St. Joe's has a handful of forwards on the current roster but graduates three (Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, Aaron Brown) this spring. What type of skillset does Blount have? The Hawks already have a skilled four in Pierfrancesco Oliva and a dunking machine in Markell Lodge. It sounds like Blount is a bit of a hybrid of those two. "He has a very good handle and sees the floor well," Kremer explained. "He makes great passes from the post and has a jumper out to the three point line. Around the basket, he's improved tremendously, and I expect him to be much tougher there this year. His athleticism makes him a potentially dominant rebounder."

Kremer was honest in his assessment of the 6'7 forward, noting that there are areas where Gerald will need to improve, and areas he knows he must improve in. "To be his best, he will need to continue developing his jump shot, notably smoothing out his release. He'll also need to work on boxing out and his nose for the ball. Playing for Coach Martelli will require him to be great in those areas."

Gerald Blount played with the NY Jayhawks this spring and summer on the travel circuit. For the Jayhawks, Blount played with 2016 UConn commit Mamadou Diarra, George Washington commit Jair Bolden, and top 50 2017 wing Hamidou Diallo. Playing alongside such talent had its advantages and disadvantages. "The Jayhawks were loaded with talent, and he (Gerald) didn't get as much time on the court as he would have liked. However, he was very good toward the end of the summer and then had some great workouts in front of coaches on our campus." It was at those workouts that Blount picked up the St. Joe's offer.

In the end, Gerald Blount strongly considered UMBC, Rider, and Winthrop before committing to the Hawks, Coach Kremer told Hawk Hill Hardwood. In addition to the four schools listed above, Kremer said that "others were starting to get involved too."

Gerald Blount is a New Jersey native, so his commitment to St. Joe's allows him to play his college ball close to home, family, and friends. Kremer glowed about his senior's commitment to the Hawks, saying that St. Joe's is "a great school, and as a New Jerseyite he will be close to home and a holder of a drgree that carries much weight around the area."

With Gerald Blount and Charles Brown now in the fold, St. Joe's is still actively looking for a guard to round out the 2016 class. The Hawks got their sharp-shooting wing in Brown, their athletic frontcourt piece in Blount, and now are looking for one more. With the Early Signing Period now upon us, Hawk Hill Hardwood will continue to have all the latest news and updates.

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