Joel Soriano’s Explosive Performance in the Dominican Republic Showcases 2022 Potential

Joel Soriano improved his game through conference play last season, and through the exhibition games, it looks like that player is here to stay.

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

After putting up impressive numbers in his home country during the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team’s foreign tour to the Dominican Republic this summer, Joel Soriano is back in Queens and ready to make an impact.

Soriano is the first true center the Red Storm has had since head coach Mike Anderson took over the Men’s Basketball team in 2019. He transferred from Fordham University to St. John’s last season, and despite early struggles, became an offensive and defensive force as the season progressed. 

His progression reached new heights during the team’s trip to the Dominican Republic in August, where he has significant playing experience. Though Soriano grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., he played in multiple levels of the Dominican Republic’s national system. 

“It was a great experience for me to be back in my motherland,” Soriano said at St. John’s media day in October. “It was a great experience for our team [as well], I feel like we needed it as a team with our newcomers.”

For Soriano, the trip served as a showcase of the center’s potential on both sides of the ball and as a locker room leader. Soriano posted three consecutive double-doubles in as many games in the Dominican Republic, highlighted by an explosive performance against the Dominican Republic’s U22 National Team that saw the center score 23 points and 15 rebounds. 

Though he acknowledges his game has improved, Soriano isn’t satisfied and is always looking forward. “I definitely see improvement for sure, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” Soriano said. “I thought I was taking [the season] one game at a time, and I’m trying to prepare myself to be one of the leaders on the team.”

Soriano helps to fill a void in the team left by outgoing collegiate veterans that provided both leadership and on-court success to the Red Storm program. Julian Champagnie, the team’s highest scorer last season, was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Draft over the summer. The team also lost impact players Aaron Wheeler, Stef Smith and Tareq Coburn.

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

But the team gained two proven transfers in Andre Curbelo and David Jones, who are joined by highly-touted freshman Kolby King and A.J. Storr. Despite the roster shakeup, the team is locked in for the season, led by Soriano and teammate Posh Alexander.

“With this group, we’re more connected than ever,” Soriano said. “We want to come on the floor and give it everything that we’ve got, and I feel like the guys that we have returning and the guys we have coming in are definitely going to help us.”

Last season, the Red Storm fell in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, ending a run in a league Soriano describes as “one of the toughest conferences [he’s] ever played in.” The Johnnies have their sights on even loftier goals for this postseason, and Soriano figures to play a significant role in their success. 

“Joel [Soriano] continues to play at a level that he was before the season ended,” Anderson said. “He has to take that same mindset and same swagger into the season.”

Soriano led the Red Storm in scoring in their second exhibition game versus Southern New Hampshire University. The first regular-season contest is slated for Monday, Nov. 7 when the Johnnies take on Merrimack at 7 p.m. in Carnesecca Arena.