By Joseph Santoliquito (@JSantoliquito)
Izaiah Pasha is looking again. Well, kind of.
The explosive Cardinal O’Hara 6-foot-5, 180-pound senior shooting guard committed to Iona and former Gaels’ Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino back in November. But when Pitino officially took the job at St. John’s this week, Pasha changed his mind. Pasha said he will most likely go the prep school route for a year, a thought originally suggested to him when he first went through the recruiting process.
After the rumors began surfacing last week about Pitino going to St. John’s, Pasha began hearing from the Red Storm staff that Pitino was taking with him from Iona early this week.
Pasha had some paperwork to finalize from Iona to officially decommit from the letter of intent he signed and inform new Iona coach Tobin Anderson, formerly of Fairleigh Dickinson, of his decision.
Cardinal O'Hara senior Izaiah Pasha is likely headed to prep school next year. (Photo: CoBL File)
“Obviously, I would have loved to have gone right to St. John’s and join coach Pitino right now,” said Pasha, a first-team All-Philadelphia Catholic League selection who averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds a game this past season for the Lions. “I’m 100 percent with this decision. Everyone was telling me going (to prep school after graduating O’Hara) was the move that I have should have made all along. I should have made the move before the season started.
“I realize I need to get physically stronger and stronger in the classroom. Coach Pitino and his staff have followed me every game this season. Coach Ricky Johns (who will join Pitino at St. John’s) told me on Monday and again on Wednesday that coach Pitino would love to have me at St. John’s and what their plan is for me. They told me that they would like me to be a star on their team one day.”
Pitino’s staff suggested Pasha go the prep school route. The list of prep schools he is considering include South Kent (Conn.), St. Thomas More (Conn.), and Western Reserve Academy (Ohio), among others.
“That’s the route I want to go, going to prep school for a year and then go to St. John’s, but my recruitment is open again,” he said. “Once the Pitino news came out, other schools that were interested in before contacted me, but the only other school I would look at is Xavier. Coach Johns told me that they would love to have me at St. John’s, but they think it is better for me to go to prep school for a year, gain about 10, 15 pounds and develop more physically. Xavier wanted to go a prep year, too. I did speak to coach Anderson. He reached out to me. He told he watched my film and would like me to stay.
“But I really want to play for Coach Pitino. I did sign a letter of intent with Iona. But once coach Pitino left, I’m allowed to look at other schools. I took all of my social media posts down from me going to Iona. To be honest, I want to go anywhere Coach Pitino is. We’re both on the same page. He’s trying to win right away, and he knows what is best for me. I know St. John’s just offered (Imhotep’s 6-foot junior point guard) Ahmad Nowell, who’s a 2024, so I would be going to St. John’s with him if he decides to go there.”
Led by Pasha, who carries a 4.3 GPA on a 6.0 scale, the Lions finished 18-9 overall this season, losing to eventual PIAA Class 4A state semifinalist Allentown Central Catholic in the second round of the PIAA state playoffs.
After the O’Hara loss to Allentown Central Catholic, Lions’ coach Ryan Nemetz and the majority of his staff informed the players that they would be resigning immediately after the game.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who began writing for CoBL in 2021 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.
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