Lisa Claxton

If family ties are any indication, the St. John’s women’s basketball team is in for a real treat. One of this year’s freshmen additions is a 5-foot-6 version of one of Hofstra men’s basketball’s most recent success stories.

Lisa Claxton, sister of NBA player Craig “Speedy” Claxton, comes to St. John’s from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Philadelphia, Pa. As one of the premier point guards in Philly, Claxton averaged 10 points, six assists and 3.8 steals per game on a team that was ranked 14th in the nation and first in the state.

Claxton was also a two-time Street and Smith’s honorable mention All-American, earned All-Catholic and All-City honors, was named the Slam Jam Most Valuable Player, and was named to the All-Delta First Team.

Claxton lived in Hempstead, L.I. prior to attending high school in Pennsylvania and had the opportunity to go to a lot of different schools, Hofstra being one of them. While the opportunity to go to her older brother’s alma mater and stay close to home was an option, it was one that she chose to turn down.

“I wanted to help build a program,” Claxton said. “I didn’t want to play under their (brother Speedy, and sister Stacy-Ann) shadow .”

Although she doesn’t want to be in her siblings’ shadow, when asked why she wears number 10, Claxton sheepishly replied, “It’s a family number.”

Claxton is also happy to have stayed in New York, and the recent addition of two games at Madison Square Garden made her decision to come to St. John’s even easier.

“I’m not scared about playing in the public eye at all,” the ultra-competitive guard said. “The more people watching me, the better.”

However confident Claxton may seem, she still had to make the difficult transition from high school to college basketball.

“So far the main difference between the two levels is that college is way more intense,” Claxton said. “Practices are longer, and there is more of a time commitment, but it’s OK.”

While there are many differences that she will have to get adjusted to, one of the similarities between lower level and college basketball is Kia Wright, childhood friend, and junior guard.

“I’ve known her since she was a baby,” Wright said. “When it came time for her to decide on a college, I couldn’t let her go anywhere else.”

Added Claxton: “She (Wright) called me everyday. “She wouldn’t leave me alone until I told her where I was going.”

Wright and Claxton played AAU ball together on Long Island. Wright, who is from Copiague, and Claxton played together from 1999 to 2003 on the Long Island Wave. Those years of familiarity will provide the two with a competitive advantage when they are out on the court.

“I know her,” Wright said. “She can do it all. Through her, I know I am going to get more open looks. I know where her passes are going to be, and she knows where my passes are going to be.”

Wright is not the only person to see the potential in Claxton. Coach Kim Barnes Arico is also quick to praise the gifted athlete.

“I’ve known about her since she was in eighth grade,” Barnes Arico said. “She’s a competitor and is very similar to her brother. One of the reasons she came here is that she wanted to compete at the highest level. She’s a playmaker with excellent court vision, aggressiveness, hustles a lot, and can beat people off of the dribble.”

“We are expecting big things from her,” Barnes Arico continued. “We have a strong nucleus coming back from last year’s team, and she is a wonderful addition.”

Claxton’s initial speed and stamina, however, will be a poor representation of her true speed because she is coming off of an injury to her ankle.

While surgery, performed in June, was successful, Claxton is still trying to re-gain her game speed.

“She is coming off of her first surgery, but it was a success,” Barnes Arico said. “She will be fine, and just needs to get back up to speed with the rest of the team. We are going to slowly work her in, but when she is fully back up to speed, she will be a very integral part of the team.”

This year promises to be a very good one for Claxton.

She will be a major addition to a team that posted its best win total in 20 years and advanced to the second round of the WNIT tournament.

With Claxton on the team, this season looks to get off to a “speedy” start.