Walk-Ons

Walk-ons are some of the hardest working players on any college basketball team, and the ones at St. John’s are no exception.

Liam Biesty, Nygel Roach, Otoja Abit, Adam Laitsas and Devin Mayo all play integral roles for the Red Storm. All of the walk-ons this season take their responsibilities seriously and put forth their best effort.

Mayo, a junior from Maryland who is often assigned to guard Daryll Hill and Eugene Lawrence in practice, played in 12 games in the past two seasons.

“To contribute to the team was a good feeling,” said Mayo, who always admired the St. John’s program.

Roach, a senior walk-on from New Jersey, has played in 10 career games.

“It’s always great to have a chance to be out there,” said Roach, who wears No. 0. “It’s definitely a privilege and something I’m thankful for.”

Still, the walk-ons agree that playing in games is not their most important role on the team. Mostly, they expect to work hard and to help everyone improve.

“I’m pretty happy where I am right now, just being part of the team and being able to contribute however I can, whether it’s on or off the court,” Biesty, a sophomore, said.

One of the elements that keeps the Red Storm team so strong is the sense of loyalty that Roberts has instilled.

Abit, a sophomore from Woodside, N.Y., helped the Red Storm as a walk-on last year and played in six games, grabbing two rebounds for the season. But when he fractured his foot over the summer, Abit was concerned that as a walk-on without a scholarship, he would be expendable.

“I was kind of scared [about it], but coach Roberts let me know that I’m part of the team, part of the family,” Abit said.

He will be cleared by doctors to play this January.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I was always a big fan of St. John’s,” said Biesty, a Brooklyn native. “Being from the New York area, you always hear a lot about them, so there’s always been a buzz around St. John’s.”

Growing up in California, Laitsas was less familiar with St. John’s, but he wanted the opportunity to play on a Division I team. For Laitsas, the best parts about playing at St. John’s are the camaraderie among the players and the traveling the team does.

Laitsas and the other walk-ons are appreciative of the chance to learn under Roberts’ leadership.

“He’s a great man, very determined, very excited, and very focused,” Roach said of Roberts.

The walk-ons are hoping to help the team improve this year and to play to the best of their abilities. As Laitsas said, it doesn’t matter who plays, “as long as we win.”