Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg)
Phil Martelli and his staff picked up another commitment for their incoming 2014 class on Monday night.
Six-foot-4 guard/wing James Demery from Northside Christian Academy in Charlotte, N.C. chose Saint Joseph’s after taking an official visit to Hawk Hill just last week. Scout.com ranked Demery their No. 24 shooting guard in the nation recently.
“I’m really excited about it,” Demery said. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Demery’s Team Charlotte AAU coach, Jeff McInnis, who played in the NBA and is also an assistant on Demery’s Northside Christian Academy team, spoke very highly of Demery.
“He’s gonna work hard every day,” McInnis, who has coached Demery for four years, said. “Everybody raves about his offensive game, but to me his defense is his biggest attribute. He can defend most of the guys at his position.”
Hawks fans needn’t worry about off-court problems with Demery.
“He’s one of the most humble people I’ve been around in life,” McInnis said. “He’s a church guy, reads his bible all the time. People always say they wish they had a team of 12 James Demery’s.”
Like many high school recruits, the biggest knock on Demery has been consistent jump shooting.
“He makes shots during games,” McInnis said. “They aren’t the prettiest shots, but they go in.”
Demery has averaged 21 points per game in the four years playing for Team Charlotte, according to McInnis.
“He’s a slasher, he can get to the rim when he wants,” McInnis said. “He’s a great scorer.”
According to Demery, he chose the Hawks over a list of schools that included Virginia Tech, Miami (Fl.), Creighton, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
“I feel like I made the right decision,” Demery said. “It’s a great fit for me.”
Demery becomes the third member of Saint Joseph’s 2014 class. He joins Shavar Newkirk and recent fellow-North Carolinian commit Markell Lodge. Demery and Lodge have been opponents, and now will link up to lead a solid recruiting class.
“He’s a great player,” Demery said. “We didn’t plan to commit at the same time. He told me what his plans were, I thought that was great.”
Demery committed to the Hawks just five days after Lodge announced his decision.
“I went up to Saint Joseph’s the next week and really enjoyed my time. I loved the atmosphere of the city,” Demery said.
The Hawks will lose five seniors following the 2013-2014 season, including four scholarship players, so Martelli will be looking for solid minutes from his 2014 class.
Martelli played a key role in getting Demery to commit to the Hawks.
“Coach Martelli is a great coach,” Demery said. “Me and him built a great personal relationship.”
McInnis, who knows former Saint Joseph’s player Jameer Nelson from the NBA, knew all about coach Martelli.
“Jameer spoke very highly of Martelli,” McInnis said. “Just knowing that he’s coached NBA players before, I felt extremely comfortable. Then when James loved it, I loved it even more.”
The Hawks will have an influx of talented guard/wing players ranging from 6-4 to 6-8 beginning in the 2014 season.
Aaron Brown, the 6-4 former Penn Wood standout and recent transfer to Saint Joseph’s from West Virginia will sit out this season and join the Hawks roster in 2014 along with Demery, Newkirk and Lodge.
Demery will be the Hawks 12th player under scholarship for the 2014 season.