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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

New Kids on the Block: Midseason Report Card

The future of the Red Storm is bright, thanks to Brady Dunlap and Simeon Wilcher.
Torch Photos / Sara Kiernan
Torch Design / Olivia Seaman

Prior to November 2023, freshmen Brady Dunlap and Simeon Wilcher were promising recruits added to Rick Pitino’s impressive roster. Having left their imprint on high school courts, St. John’s fans eagerly anticipated how the pair would fit into Red Storm play. 

Flash forward to the present: both have entered the starting lineup at least once, and both have begun to show their potential in just 20 games. These glimpses ignite fans’ excitement and promise of what’s to come. Here’s a closer look at their respective journeys so far:

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

During non-conference play, Dunlap initially saw small glimpses of on-court action, contributing single-digit stats in points, minutes and rebounds. The California native expressed his commitment to personal growth under Pitino.

“I wasn’t committing to this program expecting lots of minutes,” he said. “I just wanted to get up and get as good as I can throughout this year.”

And that it did. 

A turning point occurred in the team’s first game of 2024. When an ankle injury held graduate forward Chris Ledlum out vs. Butler on Jan. 3, Dunlap took his place and proved himself. In 28 minutes, the forward scored 13 points and hit 3-of-5 three-point attempts. Postgame, he recalls his readiness if “[Pitino] calls my name.” 

What stands out is his growing confidence, with the Butler victory catalyzing his transformation. Pitino and graduate guard Daniss Jenkins echo these beliefs.

“Brady came in very confident at practice and that’s how he played,” Jenkins said. “That’s what he looks like in practice and we encouraged him to shoot. Whenever he’s open, you shoot.” 

Since then, he’s consistently demonstrated improvement. In the Jan. 10 victory over Providence, he played 31 minutes, put up nine points and shot 71% from the field. His impressive 15-point contribution showcased his mid-range shooting abilities. Against Marquette on Jan. 20, he tallied four rebounds and assists, showing his potential defensively. 

After the Red Storm’s first win over Villanova, senior center Joel Soriano praised Dunlap’s performance and hard-working spirit, “I’m just happy he is bringing it to the game. With him, it’s a confidence thing, getting his feet wet in games and believing in himself because we believe in him,” Soriano said. “He’s one of the hardest working freshmen and the hardest workers I know.”

With his confidence and skill growing by the day, what will Dunlap look like next year? If his freshman season tells us anything, this is just the start of a successful college basketball career. 

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

As for Wilcher, his potential outweighs his current season totals. Thus far, he averages 2.2 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 40% from the field. 

His play has drastically improved in 2024; he looks more comfortable with the ball and seems to have adjusted to the collegiate level. In the Jan. 16 blowout vs. Seton Hall, he played a season-high 23 minutes, putting up five points and three assists.

The guard made his first career start vs. Villanova on Jan. 24, putting up four points, five rebounds, and one block— a defensive high for the New Jersey native.  According to Pitino, Wilcher got the “much deserved” start because “he is the best cheerleader on the bench.” 

Off the court, Dunlap praises Wilcher’s ability to be an “uplifting” teammate and friend. 

I have a great relationship with [Wilcher], and every day we go back to the dorm, whether we play or not, and it’s always positive in that room, and we uplift each other,” Dunlap said. “That’s one of my best friends right now. We just keep each other up and that’s why we keep the confidence.”

Wilcher’s performance begs the same question as his freshman teammate — how will he look in one, two or three years from now? While both have much room to grow, they possess the traits needed to join the likes of Chris Mullin, Felipe Lopez, Ron Artest and other St. John’s legends.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Seaman, Managing Editor
Olivia is a junior journalism student serving her second year as Managing Editor. Outside of The Torch, she is a student ambassador and an Undergraduate Writing Consultant at the University Writing Center. You can find her with a matcha latte in hand, listening to SZA and watching St. John's basketball. Olivia can be reached at [email protected]

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  • R

    Robert GoffJan 31, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    IVE BEEN A FAN F ST.JOHNS SINCE 8YRS OLD. IM HAPPY THE WAY WE ARE LOOKING IN THE FUTURE. IM HOPING WE SEE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SOON.. LETS GO REDMAN

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  • B

    Bob FahlerJan 30, 2024 at 3:28 pm

    Great article Olivia. Your dad certainly has influenced your love of basketball ; however I’m sure your mom must have provided your writing prowess. Keep up the great work.

    Reply