St. John's head men's basketball coach Norm Roberts announced the signing of Justin Brownlee (Tifton, Ga./Chipola Junior College (Fla.) to a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to join the Red Storm for the 2009-10 season.
Brownlee rounds out the Red Storm's 2009-10 recruiting class, which includes spring signee and prep point guard Malik Stith (Hempstead, N.Y./Bridgton Academy (Maine), and Omari Lawrence of South Kent (Conn.) and 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) third team All-American Dwight Hardy of Indian Hills Community College (Iowa), both natives of the Bronx, who signed NLIs during the fall signing period.
"We wanted to address specific needs with this recruiting class. We wanted to improve upon three things – our ballhandling, our ability to shoot and score, and our overall athleticism. With this class, we were able to address all three," said Roberts.
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"Justin is an extremely versatile basketball player, who will be able to fill a number of roles on our team," said Roberts. "He is a gifted athlete with an incredible ability to score and create."
Brownlee, a 6-7, 225-pound forward, averaged 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds for Chipola Junior College in Mariana, Fla., located on the Florida panhandle. Bolstered by first team All-Panhandle Conference selection Brownlee and eight Chipola teammates who have gone on to sign NLIs with NCAA Division I basketball programs, the Indians posted a 34-2 record in 2008-09, spent nine-straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA poll to close out the season, and finished in third place in the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, falling to eventual national champion Salt Lake C.C.
Brownlee averaged 10.8 points per game and made 84.6 percent of his free throws during the four-game NJCAA championship round (during which Chipola went 3-1), and scored a game-high 20 points in the national third-place game, a 102-70 victory over Connors State, Okla. The week before, Brownlee's efforts in the NJCAA Division I Region VIII Tournament were good enough to earn him an all-tournament selection. His head coach at Chipola was Greg Heiar.
Prior to his enrollment at Chipola, Brownlee attended City College of San Francisco during the 2006-07 season, where he was coached by Justin Labagh. Brownlee was a first team all-state JUCO selection in California after averaging approximately 20.0 points in one year with the Rams.
"St. John's may have gotten the steal out of all of junior college," said Jerry Mullen of Mullen's Roundball Review, a national junior college recruiting service. "He is really talented. As a freshman he dominated JUCO ball in the state of California, and before that he was being recruited by several high-major Division I programs out of high school. Justin is a great kid and a really good get for St. John's."
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