Torch Photo/Amanda Negretti
It’s been nothing short of a crazy offseason for St. John’s, and the storm might not be over yet for the Red Storm. At the conclusion of a season that saw the Johnnies have some highlights, but fail to meet expectations, thoughts of next season were filled with newfound optimism. A combination of recruits and transfers filled out the Red Storm roster, giving Head Coach Chris Mullin the most depth he’s ever had to work with. This was true even with the graduating class of Bashir Ahmed and Amar Alibegovic.
However, that optimism was met with the harsh reality of today’s world in college basketball. One of the core players on the team, center Tariq Owens, recently announced he was transferring to Texas Tech to play for the Red Raiders. It was a big blow to lose the Big East leader in blocks on a team that struggled with size this past season.
This followed the announcement a few weeks ago that guard Shamorie Ponds declared for the NBA Draft, but without an agent. This means he can still decide to return to campus for his junior year, but that final decision remains a question. The latest departure from the Red Storm roster was Kassoum Yakwe. The junior forward from Mali struggled to see significant minutes in 2017-18 and recently decided to transfer to the University of Connecticut, per Andrew Slater.
The hope is that Ponds can return to a team that finally has a deeper roster even with the departure of Owens. The Red Storm will welcome incoming freshmen Greg Williams Jr., Josh Roberts and Marcellus Earlington.
Roberts is a three-star recruit out of Troy, Alabama. He’s a 6’8 forward that will give the Johnnies some height and athleticism off the bench.
Williams is a four-star guard out of Louisiana that will be a great fit in the Red Storm’s guard-oriented system.
Earlington was a football and basketball player at the high school level, and weighs 250 pounds. The 6’5 forward possesses a lot of strength, and has the raw ability to dominate on the glass. Earlington had offers to play defensive end at major college football programs such as Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State.
The incoming recruiting class is strong, but with rivals like Georgetown bringing in high-profile recruits, Mullin’s work is far from over. The biggest recruit on the Johnnies radar is five-star forward Jordan Brown from California. While Brown’s commitment to St. John’s once looked promising, he looks to be more of a pipe dream at this point. The belief is he’ll play close to home at Stanford or the University of California-Berkeley.
St. John’s still has some visits left with other incoming freshman. Three-star forward Maurice Calloo out of West Virginia is visiting Queens on April 27. St. John’s and Illinois are believed to be the front-runners for his services.
Where the Red Storm’s coaching staff has to be active is the transfer market, which is how they landed impact players like guard Mikey Dixon and center Sedee Keita, who will play this year. On April 14, it was announced that David Caraher, a slashing sophomore wing from Houston Baptist, would transfer to St. John’s. Caraher averaged 16.2 points last season.
Mullin’s next potential transfer target is sophomore guard Dachon Burke from Robert Morris. A meeting with Burke was scheduled for April 16.
The upcoming season will be Mullin’s fourth at the helm, and perhaps his most pivotal. The pressure is on him to finally put the pieces together and succeed. Of course, this will all depend on who he can lure to Queens.