The St. Francis Prep star had other opportunities, including one very attractive one at Hofstra, but when St. John's coach Norm Roberts called to offer a scholarship, the Forest Hills resident took a day to consider, but he really didn't need time to think. "I never really thought about it until they started talking to me," Cavataio said. "I'd rather play for them than any team in the country pretty much." It was a remarkable 72 hours for Cavataio, who leads the CHSAA in scoring, averaging 25.3 points per game. On Friday, Roberts saw Cavataio play for the first time - he scored 9 points in a 78-51 loss at Molloy. Like Hofstra and Manhattan before him, Roberts offered Cavataio a scholarship the next day. On Sunday, Cavataio sat courtside at Madison Square Garden to watch St. John's stun Syracuse, 64-60, and after his first real tour of the campus, Cavataio verbally committed late Sunday night. "It's like a dream come true to be able to play for that program and in the Garden," said Cavataio, whose father Mike Sr. attended St. John's on a track scholarship. "It's a great opportunity." While the coaches knew who Cavataio was, they didn't become interested until he scored a game-high 30 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter in a 70-65 win over archrival Holy Cross Jan. 12. Red Storm assistant coach Glenn Braica was there to watch Cross junior Sylven Landesberg, but left impressed with Cavataio. At 6-foot-5, Cavataio plays inside by necessity at St. Francis Prep, but would likely be either a shooting guard or a small forward at St. John's. Although he is inconsistent from three-point range, St. Francis Prep coach Tim Leary calls Cavataio "deadly from 15 feet" in addition to being a solid defender and tremendous scorer. While the jury is still out on whether Cavataio is a Big East caliber player, there is no questioning his character, his strong academic standing and his high basketball IQ. It's what he and Christ the King guard Malik Boothe - who verbally committed to St. John's in August - have in common. The two were teammates on the city championship freshmen team at Christ the King. "A lot of people think, 'He needs to get stronger or he needs to improve his shot,'" Cavataio said. "But I'm willing to do whatever it takes. That just motivates me more, people doubting I can play at that level." Prep has sent its share of players to Division I schools, including Drew Samuels (Marist), Rashad Bell (Boston University), Kevin Fitzgerald (Boston University) and Bryan Geffen (Quinnipiac). But he is the first player to go from St. Francis Prep to St. John's since Steve Shurina and Kevin Fitzpatrick did so in the mid-80s. "He's proven an awful lot to me in the last three or four months about what he's capable of doing," Leary said. "He's tremendously athletic, he plays above the rim, he's very good on defense, his shot is just getting better and better. He had about 10 games in a row where if he didn't have 30 [points], he sure had close to 30...It's all in front of him." He had a solid summer, playing AAU ball with the Long Island Lightning and after the initial disappointment of Davidson recruiting over his head just before his official visit, Cavataio exploded in his first two months. Schools like Lehigh, Boston University, Providence and Manhattan became interested, as did Hofstra. Cavataio was so enamored with Tom Pecora's Pride, he was close to committing. That is, until Roberts came calling. "It was kind of building up, the schools that were recruiting me," Cavataio said. "St. John's just put it over the top."
©2007 Community News Group
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