The New Guys: A changing of the guard for men’s basketball

Brandon Mauk and Carmine Carcieri, Digital Sports Manager and Staff Writer

Chris Mullin had a very busy summer. The roster for St John’s basketball underwent as much turnover as its coaching staff did. Only three lettermen from last season have returned for the 2015-16 season.

Nevertheless, the Red Storm added four transfer students and five freshman signees to the team. This mixture of youth, experience, foreign and local talent has the team aiming for a second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. 247Sports.com ranked this year’s St. John’s recruiting class 39th overall in the country.

Freshmen-

PG Marcus Lovett, Jr.: A four-star recruit out of Morgan Park High School in Chicago. The lefty was a First Team All-State selection in by the Chicago Tribune after averaging over 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

PG Federico Mussini: The Italian point guard chose St. John’s after playing three seasons professionally for Pallancanestro Reggiana of Serie A in his native Reggio Emilia. In international play, he led all teams in scoring in the 2014 FIBA Europe Under-18 tournament. He also helped Team World defeat Team USA in the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit.

C Yankuba Sima: A 6’11” big man from Girona, Spain, Sima was ranked as high as No. 14 at the position for the Class of 2015. He dominated on both ends of the floor in international play the last two years. He helped Spain finish fifth in the 2014 Under-18 European tournament, where he averaged 12.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He helped lead his country’s team to the quarterfinals at the 2015 FIBA Under-19 World Championships, where he averaged 9.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

PF Kassoum Yakwe: A local kid from Our Savior New American School in Centereach, N.Y. in Suffolk County, Yakwe was a four-star recruit due to his strong defensive presence in the post. In AAU ball, he was named the 2015 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Defensive Player of the Year.

SF Malik Ellison: The freshman from New Jersey, Ellison is the son of former Louisville talent and 10-year NBA veteran, Pervis Ellison. The 6’6” Pennsylvania native was ranked as a three-star prospect on ESPN’s recruiting list and chose St. John’s over Seton Hall, Rutgers, Maryland and Xavier, amongst others.

Transfers- 

G/F Durand Johnson: After playing only one full season at Pittsburgh due to a severe knee injury suffered in 2013-14, Johnson transferred into the Red Storm with his eyes set on averaging more than 5.4 points per game in his final season of college basketball. The 6’6” wing offers versatility, experience and efficiency (shot 41 percent from the field during his career at Pittsburgh), while also giving Mullin a player that can score in bunches. Johnson scored in double-figures eight times during 2013 and scored a career high 17 points against the Maryland Terrapins on Jan. 6, 2014.

SF Darien Williams began his college career at Iowa Western Community College where he earned All-Region XI honors and ICCAC Academic All-Region XI recognition. The 6’8” stretch four averaged 16.1 points, with 6.7 rebounds per game, and shot 51.2 percent from the field and 41.1 percent from downtown. Williams, who was also recruited by Iowa State, has three years of eligibility remaining and will give Mullin a unique option with his ability  to play multiple positions.

G/F Ron Mvouika: A graduate transfer from Missouri State who also played at Sheridan College in Wyoming, he joins the Johnnies after averaging 5.5 points per game last season. Mvouika is a native of Paris, France who will keep the defense honest with his ability to knock down shots from all over the floor.

SF Tariq Owens: He arrives in Queens after one up-and-down season with Tennessee. Owens will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to the NCAA transfer rules but his shot blocking, skills and experience within one of the best conferences in the nation will be critical for Mullin come 2016. Owens, who only played 7.6 minutes per game in his freshman season, ranked as the eighth-best prospect coming out of high school in Maryland.

St. John’s is in the middle of the rebuilding process and these nine guys brought in this offseason will be instrumental in the future success of the program.