Welcome to Madison Square Gardner: Four-Star Recruit Commits To St. John’s

St. John’s lands the highest rated recruit of the Anderson era (so far).

Photo Courtesy / Instagram / Brandon Gardner

Even after a disappointing season on the hardwood last year, fans of the Red Storm have had plenty to get excited about these past few months. Between the arrivals of transfers Andre Curbelo and David Jones, as well as freshmen AJ Storr and Kolby King, a storm appears to be brewing in Queens.

That storm became torrential with the news of Brandon Gardner’s commitment this past June, per his Twitter.

The 6-foot-7 forward chose the Johnnies over the likes of LSU and Auburn, among others. Gardner is the highest rated commit of the Mike Anderson era so far, and the first St. John’s addition for the 2023-24 season. A four-star recruit ranked in the top 75 of his class, Gardner is now in his senior year of high school with plenty of hype and excitement surrounding his game.

Gardner’s journey thus far

Gardner attends Christ The King here in Queens. One of the top recruits while playing high school ball in North Carolina, he made a name for himself on the AAU circuit while also receiving invites to Nike’s EYBL events. Several scouts and coaches have raved about Gardner’s improved offensive game, while also noting what a strong rebounder he is at his size.

Something fans noticed in Gardner’s game film is his infectious energy. After a strong defensive effort results in a block, he thrives off that moment and elevates his play even more. The same occurs after a dunk — a common occurrence as he powers through smaller defenders in the paint. While these types of looks will certainly become rarer in Big East play, it is evident that he has the offensive skills and confidence to take on anyone lining up against him.

A player like Gardner is built for Madison Square Garden — it seems like fate that the St. John’s community has dubbed him “Madison Square Gardner” online.

Outlook for the future

While Gardner will not join the Johnnies until the 2023-24 season, the highly touted recruit’s decision represents something much larger for the university and its basketball program. According to the New York Post, Gardner fell in love with the allure of New York City: the bright lights, Madison Square Garden and even the food. With the likes of Gardner and Storr already on the roster, the Red Storm’s recruiting efforts can start to boast about location and pedigree.

While St. John’s has benefitted from the city’s charm before, it has evolved beyond what Gardner (and many others before him) reportedly loved about it. In an era of name, image and likeness (NIL) and a stressed importance on personal branding, the Metropolitan area provides an excellent opportunity for athletes to market themselves. The Red Storm are fully aware of this, as evident through recent efforts such as a partnership with Boardroom and the “UNLIMITED” program.

The groundwork has officially been set in Queens. St. John’s has the potential, and it is up to Coach Anderson and his staff to continue capitalizing on this momentum through the recruiting process. Gardner is a clear byproduct of their efforts thus far, and fans should be excited about what he will do for this University.