Hooper set to start first St. John’s season

Harvard transfer ready for debut after year off

Redshirt sophomore Max Hooper hasn’t seen a minute on the floor with the St. John’s men’s basketball team after transferring from Harvard following his freshman year in 2011/12.

That year off has given him a chance to improve his game while he awaits his official debut with the Red Storm. He’s spent an entire year on the practice court with the Johnnies and got some playing time during the team’s recent trip to Europe where he made 10 3-pointers in one contest.

“It was good to finally be on the court,” Hooper said during Saturday’s St. John’s Dribble for the Cure event. “It was real to be on the court with my teammates supporting me.”

Standing at 6-foot-6, Hooper likely won’t be limited to a pure shooter-type role this season, he said.

“First and foremost my job is to make shots on the court, but at the same time I bring a lot more to the table than just shooting,” Hooper said. “I can use my shot to set up other plays to get in the lane for myself or to set up plays for my teammates.”

Hooper credited his teammates with doing a “good job” of setting him up for shots, which helped make him comfortable anywhere on the court.

“I feel like it didn’t matter where I was on the floor because I play from the two to the four,” he said. “I feel comfortable doing any of those regardless of who’s on the court with me.”

His teammates have taken notice of his shot-making ability and junior guard D’Angelo Harrison attributed his arrival and the work put in by the rest of the team as reasons that the Red Storm will improve dramatically from beyond the arc this season.

“If you don’t guard him, he doesn’t miss,” Harrison said. “Teams are going to have to respect him every time he’s in the game.”

Hooper may find himself in that position this year with the opportunity to play in tandem with shooter Marco Bourgault, who averaged 2.9 points-per-game with limited playing time last season.

“I feel like that can be a deadly combination because it would stretch defenses,” Hooper said. “It really is up to [head] coach [Steve] Lavin. Marco and I are both very smart players. We know how to play the game and I feel like it would be effective to have us both on the court at the same time.”

While Bourgault was getting acclimated to the Big East last year, Hooper was observing from the sidelines. However, he said the year he spent without NCAA competition didn’t go to waste.

“I would have loved to be on the court contributing,” he said. “I was able to focus on and improve my individual game [in practice] and as a result I think I’ll be that much better when the season roles around.”

That work hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates, including junior Sir’Dominic Pointer.

“He’s in the gym all the time, he’s practicing and he’s earned the right to shoot the ball,” he said.