The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Making Shots and Passing Tests

Tareq Coburn’s Journey to St. John’s as Basketball Champion and PA Student
Graduate transfer Tareq Coburn, #10, faces off against teammates in an intrasquad scrimmage.
Graduate transfer Tareq Coburn, #10, faces off against teammates in an intrasquad scrimmage.

The grind of the college basketball season – and college in general – is a test of patience. It requires hard work, dedication and fortitude to successfully score the winning shot. St. John’s graduate student Tareq Coburn has passed the test. 

Coburn is currently studying in the St. John’s Physician Assistant program while simultaneously playing as one of Men’s Basketball coach Mike Anderson’s top options at the guard position. After completing the graduate program, Coburn says he has the versatility to work in any discipline in the medical field. 

Coburn has waited his fair share to get to St. John’s, which the Queens native revealed was always a “dream school.” The journey started at St. Bonaventure, where he appeared in 12 games for the Bonnies and played just 2.3 minutes per game. 

Coburn moved on from St. Bonaventure following his freshman 2016-17 season and due to the NCAA transfer restrictions in place at the time was forced to sit out the entirety of the 2017-18 basketball season at Hofstra. 

Two years removed from high school, Coburn hadn’t logged significant minutes at the Division I level. It didn’t deter the 6’5” guard, as he put it all together in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference in the 2018-19 season. Since then, all Coburn has done is win. 

The breakout season that featured an average of 8.4 points per game in just 23.9 minutes per game wasn’t just part of personal victories, but team victories as well. Coburn led the Pride to a streak of 16 straight wins in his first season of eligibility, resulting in Hofstra’s CAA regular-season title. 

Coburn’s junior season was the uncovering of his identity as a basketball player. “I’m a shooter,” he told The Torch. Coburn shot 42.5% from three-point range that season with 51 made three-point baskets. It was the skill that cemented him as a crucial player at Hofstra and his body of work only got stronger as the years went on. 

The success of Coburn’s junior season came with increased responsibility as he was tasked with starting on a routine basis and playing more minutes per game. Coburn started all but one of Hofstra’s games in the 2019-20 season and became an even better scorer. He scored double digits in 21 different games, averaging out to 10.6 points per game during that season. 

Coburn’s efforts directly led to Hofstra’s CAA postseason tournament victory that year and although he didn’t see the NCAA tournament due to COVID-19 bringing it to an abrupt end, the experience was valuable to his game. “I’m definitely a winner,” Coburn said. “[I am] a versatile player and a veteran guy that has won championships.” 

Coburn’s success on the court isn’t the whole story. Just as he has grinded through the ups and downs of being a college basketball player, Coburn has also persevered through the challenges of being a college student. Coburn was named the CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year for his academic achievements in the 2019-20 school year and was a First Team CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree. 

The final season at Hofstra was the best one for Coburn, as he improved on both his athletic and academic success. Coburn averaged 15.1 points per game and averaged 33 minutes per game – his highest usage throughout his collegiate career. Even with the increased playing time, Coburn was still effective from the three-point range, shooting 39.6 percent from that distance. 

As he was playing for Hofstra and setting personal collegiate bests in basketball, Coburn was walking through the St. John’s Queens campus. While he was still finishing his undergraduate degree, the senior guard was looking ahead to a Physician Assistant graduate program. “I had to do an application process, because I was just going to be a regular student,” Coburn said. “I was going to see the school just to be in the program.” 

Coburn was academically and athletically successful at Hofstra his senior year, adding the Third Team CoSIDA Academic All-American and two-time CAA Scholar Athlete of the Year honors to his resume. He wasn’t sure whether he could continue to be both the best athlete and student as he could be as a full-time graduate student. “It was so hard to balance both out,” Coburn said. 

Coburn was interested in St. John’s, a “dream school,” but St. John’s was not the only school interested in him. “A lot of schools throughout the country [were] contacting me, wanting me to play with them, a whole bunch of [Southeastern Conference] schools,” said Coburn. He was forced to tell them, “You guys don’t have the program [and] it wouldn’t be doable,” because his ultimate goal is to become a medical professional. 

“[Because] the [St. John’s] program is a little bit longer, I was able to do it,” Coburn said. “I spoke to coach [Anderson] after I put my name in the transfer portal, worked together with my advisers, and they said it was doable.” 

Coburn now figures to be one of the top options on a roster with a high turnover rate from the 2020-21 season to the 2021-22 season. Someday, Coburn might get his chance to be one of the top options in the medical field. 

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About the Contributor
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]

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