While the Great Neck North teams were off from conference play this week due to midterms, On the Baseline went out of the box for a special report.
Zaire Baines of Jamaica, Queens, is starting to stake his claim as one of the top varsity basketball players on Long Island. This 5’10” lefty Portledge School star is only in eighth grade. The 2022 graduate is already beginning to garner some interest among several Division 1 schools, according to Portledge Assistant Coach Jake Ellis.
“What people see is his ability to shoot and get to the basket,” said Ellis. “What they don’t see is how many hours he spends in the gym on the shooting machine. He won’t leave until he has put up at least 500 shots.”
Baines has recently gone on a torrid scoring streak, amassing 140 points in his last three games (53, 37, 50). According to Longislandbasketball.com, only three players in Long Island basketball history have had two 50-point games in one season. NFL Hall of Fame Jim Brown, of Manhasset Class of 1952, was one.
Baines is currently the second-leading scorer on Long Island, averaging 29.8 PPG, right behind Quinnipiac commit Savion Lewis of Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills.
The Portledge School, not traditionally known for its basketball, is beginning to make a name for itself under Head Coach Nick Tsikitis. The future is bright for Portledge as Baines’s running mate in the back court is none other than Jahmir Primer, who, as an eighth grader last year, not only started as point guard for Locust Valley, but also received First Team All-County honors for his stellar play. Watch out for the Panthers moving forward.