Lamarr Kimble (above) is coming into his own as his freshman year continues. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Will Slover (@WillSlover31)
Most players coming into their sophomore year scheduled to take over the reigns at point guard would be upset at the fact they had to come in and compete with a freshman for the starting spot.
Shavar Newkirk is not like most players.
“I kind of saw it as another point guard that can do the same thing I can do,” said Newkirk, following Sunday’s 69-48 win over La Salle. “It’s like we won’t miss a beat as a team. If I get subbed out because he’s coming in doing the same thing or producing more energy or vice versa, if I come in I’m producing more energy, so I kind of saw it as a great combo.”
The Hawks have certainly not missed a beat at the point guard position when freshman Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble enters the game for Newkirk. As Kimble has seen his minutes total rise, the Hawks’ win total has done the same.
“He’s making a lot of progress, and the two of them root for each other, which is nice to see.” said St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli after Wednesday’s 75-60 triumph over Penn.
Playing point guard at the college level and dealing with the various responsibilities that go along with the position is not always easy, but Kimble has made the transition better than most.
“I had a large responsibility growing up,” said Kimble on Sunday. “At Neumann (Goretti) and even in middle school. I’m a natural born leader so that role has been nothing to me.”
St. Joe’s (16-3, 5-1 A-10) has won 10 of its last 11 games and a lot of that recent success can be attributed to the two floor generals for the Hawks.
Shavar Newkirk (above) and Kimble have adapted well to platooning at the point guard position. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
As of late, both Newkirk and Kimble have been playing significant minutes for SJU and letting the other take over has not been a problem for either of the two.
“Everyone wants to win, that’s the common goal,” Newkirk said. “If that means sharing each other’s minutes to get the win, it’s all good. It’s a team thing. We’re all going to root for each other.”
Although Newkirk is the starter and averages 23 minutes per game, Kimble’s minutes aren’t far behind that of his teammate’s, as he averages 17.
Kimble, coming in with no prior experience on the college court, had to earn those minutes before becoming a focal point in SJU’s rotation.
“I just took what I knew I needed to work on and I worked on it. I just got in the gym and I see it’s paying off now,” Kimble said. “I worked for it. Coach believes in me, so do my teammates so it makes it easier for me to get playing time.”
That work has paid dividends for Kimble as he has seen his scoring improve recently, reaching double figures twice in the last three games with 10 against both Fordham and La Salle.
With 12 games remaining on the regular season schedule and all of them being in the conference, St. Joe’s needs to continue to play well to make their pursuit of an A-10 title and NCAA tournament berth possible, and with both of their point guards playing their best basketball to date, both goals looks very achievable.
“They’re not competing any longer,” Martelli said. “It’s now about us, not about them, the two of them.”