COURTSIDE: Free Transfer

The college game has welcomed transfer players with open arms, and St. John's is no exception

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COURTSIDE: Free Transfer

Torch Photo/Amanda Negretti

Torch Photo/Amanda Negretti

Torch Photo/Amanda Negretti

Torch Photo/Amanda Negretti

Kyle Suta, Contributing Writer

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This season, the Red Storm welcomes two more transfers in sophomore guard Mikey Dixon and sophomore forward Sedee Keita. Dixon left Quinnipiac after his freshman season to come to St. John’s. He said he sees his move to New York as both a challenge for himself and a step up from Quinnipiac.

“The main thing I’m focused on is to better my body, and also to get the team better,” Dixon said. “I’m trying to push my teammates everyday in practice, so they’re used to someone going hard and pushing them every day in practice.”

Additionally, Chris Mullin’s second year as head coach at St. John’s welcomed two transfer students to the program. Redshirt junior forward Marvin Clark II, who played his first two years of college basketball at Michigan State, sat out last year due to NCAA transfer regulations.

The Red Storm also welcomed forward Justin Simon, a redshirt sophomore who came over from the University of Arizona. Simon only averaged 7.5 minutes per game in his freshman season at Arizona, but is expected to be a big playmaker in a loaded backcourt that already boasts Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds.

Dixon, a Delaware native, is impressed with the bright lights of the city that never sleeps. “I really like the city, it’s a basketball city, with a lot of energy,” he said. “I really enjoyed my first Tipoff experience, it was crazy. Fans have a lot of energy here.”

Keita, who was rated the 22nd-best forward in the nation coming out of high school, was born and raised in Philadelphia. After playing one season at South Carolina, helping the Gamecocks to a Final Four appearance, Keita was looking to change schools. He didn’t hesitate when the opportunity to transfer to St. John’s presented itself.

“I feel like I needed a change,” he said. “The culture at South Carolina just really wasn’t for me. St. John’s was one of the teams that was interested. It is closer to home and I also wanted to play in the Big East, against teams like Villanova and Providence.”

Keita, who stands at 6 foot 9 and weighs 240 pounds, is a valuable player at practice and helps prepare St. John’s own big men, such as senior Amar Alibegovic and redshirt junior Tariq Owens. Keita said he knows that this is still a big year for him, and he aims to make the most of his chances next year when he is eligible to play.

“Right now, I’m focused on how to get my body stronger,” Keita said. “I just want to make sure I’m ready to go next year.”

Clark II, a redshirt junior, mentors the whole team, especially Dixon and Keita.

“As with everyone on the team, being an older guy, I’m trying to pass down knowledge to everyone as it was passed down to me,” Clark II said. “With them, I’ve talked to them about the transfer process and how to go about it. I’m telling them to take full advantage of this year and to turn your weaknesses into strengths.”

He is eager to get on the floor and make an impact in his first season in Queens. He has competed for playing time with Alibegovic and Owens at power forward and center.

People outside of New York have taken notice of the Red Storm and what they can become. Mullin cited transferring as a trend around college basketball that existed during his playing days, but one that is also becoming more and more common now.

“Historically, when I played, we always had transfer students come in,” Mullin said. “It’s probably more prominent now than when I played but it’s something that has always been pretty prominent here.”

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