St. John’s will travel to Storrs on Wednesday night to play top-ranked Connecticut. But the Red Storm will be without Dexter Gray for the bus trip north.
The sophomore forward has withdrawn from the school and will transfer to another institution, St. John’s announced Tuesday.
“Dexter has left the team for personal reason,” coach Norm Roberts said. “He leaves the University in good academic standing. Dexter is a terrific young man and we wish him all the best in the future.”
Gray, a 6-foot-7 forward, leaves St. John’s with only two bench players (Phil Missere and Tomas Jasiulionis) over 6-foot-6.
“It’ll hurt because Dex is the kind of guy who brings depth off the bench,” Roberts said.
The Mount Vernon High School product did not play in the Red Storm’s 55-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
He had played in 15 games off the bench, averaging 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game.
“I heard he was not totally happy,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimino said. “It doesn’t come as a shock.”
But St. John’s needs to put the transferring Gray out of its heads in order to focus on UConn, a squad Roberts calls “the deepest team in America.”
“You think you stopped Rashad Anderson,” Roberts said, “and Denham Brown kills you. You think you stop Marcus Williams, Rudy Gay gets you.”
Hanging over the two teams’ heads is a disagreement Roberts and Huskies coach Jim Calhoun had in the media and UConn getting a commitment from a former St. John’s recruit.
Calhoun told the Hartford Courant two weeks ago that St. John’s had a player come to the airport late on a charter flight back to New York after a game against South Florida in Tampa.
The story was untrue, Calhoun said his comments were in jest.
Doug Wiggins, a high school senior from East Hartford, committed to the Red Storm last spring, but he ended up signing a letter of intent with Connecticut in November.
Still Roberts doesn’t think there will be any bad blood.
And not because there isn’t any underlying hard feelings from either team.
The second-year coach said, “I don’t think Calhoun worries that much about Norm Roberts.”