2008-04-25 / Sports

Pearson Takes One Last High School Bow At Garden

By Elio Velez

Ryan Pearson stepped on the Garden floor, home of the New York Knicks, for the second time in his high school basketball career last Saturday night.

The Christ the King all-star wasn't afraid to play in the Jordan Brand Classic and put on a display which was similar to the prowess he showed in the CHSAAAA League this past season.

Despite a losing effort by his City team, who lost 129-127 to the Suburban squad, the all-star Pearson poured in a team high 36 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in 25 minutes of action.

The Far Rockaway native who is a resident of the Redfern Houses held his own against top national recruits such Mount Vernon's Kevin Jones and Kansas bound twin forwards Marcus and Markieff Morris.

Any matchup the suburban team threw at Pearson went for naught as the Christ the King star torched his opponents for the entire game.

"Unfortunately, we lost by 2, it was a good game and individually I think I did really good," Pearson said after the game.

"I wasn't expecting that because a lot of the guys would score and it be balanced but down the stretch, I had to help out my team and score." The bright lights and big stage at Madison Square Garden may scare a young basketball player when they step on that hallowed court.

When Kevin Durant, the NBA Seattle Supersonics rookie star visited Pearson and the other city allstars

Playing with teammate Erving Walker for one last time, Pearson was strong and forceful in driving to the basket against players who tried to guard him.

Pearson displayed the silky smooth effort and explosive strong moves to the basket that has cemented the 6- foot-5 senior forward as one of the top players of the city.

"I always try to impress because I don't want to go out there and do a bad job," Pearson said.

Pearson already has the mindset that pressure won't be a hindrance to his performance.

His 2007-2008 campaign with Christ the King produced plenty of highlights as he finished the year with a 23.2 ppg average.

"I try not to let stuff get to me, the crowd get to me. Once I get on the court, I'm on the zone. I'm focused and I blocked everything out."

There are many reasons why Pearson is heading to George Mason University, and what could be a fruitful four years with current coach and former Archbishop Molloy alumni Jim Larranaga.

The Virginia based school was the first to send letters and talk to Pearson when he was playing as a junior. As he gained notoriety and increased attention throughout the summer and at the beginning of the CHSAA regular season, Pearson remained committed to George Mason.

While Big East schools such as Seton Hall and Pittsburgh were interested in Pearson's services, the Rockaway native didn't change his mind to enroll to the Colonial Atheistic Association school.

George Mason's Cinderella run to the NCAA Final Four has highlighted how competitive the school has been in recent years. The location of the suburban school and the size of the campus were big factors in Pearson's choice.

But Pearson did get a bit nervous when Larranaga spoke to his old alma mater Providence College about their head coaching job. But after turning down the job, Larranaga's return to George Mason was a huge sign of relief for the Christ the King star.

"We have a great recruiting class coming in and he told me didn't want to go anywhere because I felt real comfortable," Pearson said. "If he had left, I wouldn't know what to do."

Pearson's work ethic remained the same every summer. With a tireless energy, he's raised his game to the point where family and friends watched Pearson deservedly raised the MVP trophy at the MSG center court. It would not have happened had he deviated from his game plan. It may be simple and cliché, but hard work does truly pay off.

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