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April 5, 2013

Amir Garrett To Leave St. John's

QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's head men's basketball coach Steve Lavin announced that sophomore swingman Amir Garrett will leave the program at the end of the spring semester, to pursue a career in professional baseball and potentially enroll at another institution to continue playing collegiate basketball.

With the announcement, St. John's previously-filled roster now has one available scholarship.

"We appreciate Amir's contributions to the St John's basketball program and wish him well in all of his future endeavors," said Lavin. "He played a valuable role in our rebuilding efforts and represented our program well as a student-athlete."

Garrett spends offseasons in professional baseball as a 96 m.p.h.-throwing left-handed pitcher within the Cincinnati Reds minor league system. On the hardwood, Garrett averaged 5.4 ppg and 4.3 rebounds with an impressive .452 field goal percentage in 20.1 minutes per game.

"I love the St. John's program and staff dearly, but I feel I need to move on to another program," said Garrett. "I will always have a place in my heart for St. John's. I will always be a Johnny at heart."

Garrett is a top 20 prospect in the Reds organization and likely the only former top 100 college basketball recruit with a 96 m.p.h. heater. An accomplished left-handed pitcher on the diamond, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd Round on June 7, 2011, was signed hours before the MLB deadline on Aug. 15, and rewarded for his promise of prowess with a handsome $1 million bonus. He signed a contract that allows him to play collegiate basketball with NCAA rules that concur.

Garrett began his professional baseball dream in the Reds' minor league system during the summer of 2012, making his debut in the rookie-level Arizona League as a member of the AZL Reds in Goodyear, Az. He made seven appearances and five starts, with 13 strikeouts, 12 walks and holding opposing batters to a .255 average before being promoted to the Billings Mustangs of the Rookie Pioneer League in August of 2012. He made two starts, striking out five in 6.0 innings and walking only one, and held opposing batters to a .211 average while working the mound for the Mustangs.

The 2012-13 Red Storm advanced to the Second Round of the National Invitation Tournament finished its campaign at 17-16(8-10 BIG EAST). St. John's 83rd winning season in history and second of The Lavin Era was its fifth since 1999-2000. The Red Storm's 2011 NCAA berth and 2013 NIT appearance under Lavin mark the first time since 2002 and 2003 where St. John's reached the postseason twice in three-year span under one coach. The Red Storm's 63-61 March 19 NIT Opening Round win over Saint Joseph's was the first non-vacated postseason victory since the 2001 NCAA Tournament.

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