Clark and Simon set to make major impact in Queens

Dylan Hornik, Staff Writer

Just a couple of weeks after Christian Jones and Amar Alibegovic announced they would leave the school, effectively wiping away the final pieces from the Steve Lavin era, the St. John’s basketball team gained a couple of highly-prized transfers in Marvin Clark Jr. and Justin Simon.

Clark is coming over from Michigan State, where he saw his minutes dip under 10 per game last season. He averaged over 11 off the bench in the Spartans’ Final Four run in 2014-2015 though and is a valuable physical body.

Clark earned a reputation as a good shooter during his time under Spartans head coach Tom Izzo, as he knocked down nearly 52 percent in his two years combined.

“I had an immediate connection with Coach Mullin and the coaching staff. I feel extremely comfortable moving forward at a place where I can be an integral part of the future success of the program,” Clark said. “I look forward to taking on the challenge of joining this team and institution and helping to restore excitement in a program with such a rich basketball tradition.”

He played in all 39 games for the Spartans in his freshman year. He made the most of his seven starts, averaging 8.7 points per game in those contests. Last season, he shot a strong 42.3 percent in limited time off the bench as he lost time behind AP Player of the Year and First-Team All-American Denzel Valentine.

“We are glad Marvin has decided to join our basketball family,” head coach Chris Mullin said. “He’s an experienced player with size, athleticism and a solid skill set. Marvin is a good fit for our program and we believe he will transition well into our style of play.”

Simon, a guard, just completed his freshman year at Arizona, where he only played 7.5 minutes per game for head coach Sean Miller. He did not have the chance to show much in the Wildcats’ run to the NCAA Tournament, averaging just 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game.

“Justin is an explosive player who we believe will develop well in our program,” Mullin said. “He’s an instinctive playmaker with good court vision and he distributes the ball well. We are glad Justin chose St. John’s for the next chapter of his basketball career.”

He was, however, a consensus top-40 prospect out of high school, rated as high as 24th by Rivals. As a junior for Temecula Valley High School, he averaged 17.5 points and almost nine rebounds per game.

“Having the opportunity to play for a Hall of Famer who has surrounded himself with an incredible staff that is all about getting their guys better was a huge draw in my decision to continue my college career at St. John’s,” Simon said. “I feel like I can be myself at St. John’s and reach my full basketball potential.”

Clark Jr. and Simon will both have to sit out a year and complete one academic year before they are deemed eligible by the NCAA.

These two are surely welcomed with open arms by a program that won just eight games in Mullin’s first season at the helm.