From the day she arrived at The Mary Louis Academy, it was obvious Amanda Burakoski was different. She was not their usual freshman basketball recruit, a blend of athletic ability and skill.
That ability made her stand out, but she still fit in seamlessly at the small Jamaica Estates school. She is the anti-prima donna, not one to seek out preferential treatment or look for accolades.
“I always said Amanda is not your typical superstar,” Mary Louis Coach Joe Lewinger said. “She doesn’t want the attention many players of her caliber garner.”
In a decision matching that laidback persona, Burakoski decided stay local, verbally committing to St. John’s University and head coach Kim Barnes Arico last week before her first game as a junior.
The talented 6-footer led the Hilltoppers to a 24-7 record and the state Federation Class A title last March, averaging 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals along the way. During that run, Burakoski became a target for prominent Division I programs. She had four shoeboxes full of college recruiting letters. Hofstra, Marist, Iona, Virginia, Boston College, West Virginia, and UConn were all interested. The list would have likely increased if she waited.
“It’s kind of consistent with what Amanda is like,” Lewinger said. “She was pretty much done with the whole recruiting process. She just wanted to play basketball her last two years.”
Instead, the Greenpoint native chose one of the first schools to notice her. Burakoski knew she wanted to attend Mary Louis after visiting there in the seventh grade. She said the same about St. John’s after taking an unofficial visit.
“It reminds me of Mary Louis,” she said of the Jamaica school. “I felt so confident I wanted to get it over and done with.”
“Like Mary Louis, it’s right down the block,” added Burakoski, who has attended every St. John’s home game and even was in the stands for the volleyball team’s NCAA tournament second-round victory over Delaware. “It’s close to home but yet I’m still dorming. I can have people visit me at school. It feels like they had a lot to offer me. I’m really comfortable there.”
A shooting guard at the next level, Burakoski should fit in nicely with the fast-paced Red Storm’s offensive philosophy.
“I like the way they play,” she said. “They are always in transition, run and gun. I feel like I’ll be able to do that there.”