Friar Basketball

Mullin Aiming High

Chris Mullin

In our latest preview of Big East recruiting classes we turn to Norman Rose of Rumble in the Garden. He’s long been one of the most insightful Big East writers, focusing on St. John’s. Today he shares more about the immediate help coming to a roster that has been stripped way down, and how new head coach Chris Mullin is aiming high in 2016 and ’17.

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Can you give us a breakdown of the Johnnies’ newcomers?

NR: This is going to be a long section because almost everyone is new. Even the returnees are basically new, with one player who saw regular rotation minutes returning — along with some end-of-bench players. So, there are grad transfers on the wings: Ron MVouika (from Missouri State) and Durand Johnson (from Pittsburgh). Johnson [Rumble profile] is a three-point shooter with size, but hasn’t proven to be strong at much else on the court. MVouika [Rumble profile] is a versatile wing who may lack quickness and hops but was an active rebounder, playmaker, and scorer for the Missouri State Bears. He sat out last season with a bulging disk issue.

From the junior college ranks, St. John’s brings in Darien Williams [Rumble profile], who had previously committed to Iowa State. He’s a forward who’s game is designed to stretch defenses.

But wait, there’s more!

St. John’s has four impact freshmen coming in. From Italy, the staff landed point guard Federico Mussini [the Rumble on his signing] who played solidly at the Nike World Basketball. He’s slim but a solid player with a distance shot and passing skills. Another point guard comes from Chicago — Marcus LoVett, a stylish and smallish PG from a number of schools, most recently Morgan Park in Chicago. He dazzles with the dribble and can score.

The program also welcomes Malik Ellison, son of Pervis Ellison, from New Jersey. Ellison is a 6’6″ wing who can play some point guard and is said to have a high basketball IQ [The Rumble on his commitment].

And up front, the team brings in Spanish center Yankuba Sima [Rumble on his signing] who also played at Arlington Country Day School and the Elev8 Academy in the United States. He’s tall, active, and played well in the U-19 European Championships [Highlights].

And where is the focus for 2016 and beyond? I know there is a lot of buzz.

NR: St. John’s is chasing top-20 guard Rawle Alkins (though he seems to be a Kentucky lean), and seem to be close on Connecticut wing Mustapha Heron and Brooklyn guard Shamorie Ponds. There is a German forward named Richard Freudenberg who is coming to visit in early August as well; though he has interest from Vanderbilt, Texas and Duke.

St. John’s has put out many offers to players in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 classes, including Manute Bol’s son, Bol Bol, who looks like quite a player — 6’11”, mobile, with a jumper!

Finally, what is the feeling surrounding the program with Mullin at the helm? How different does it feel early on? 

NR: For one, there’s not the fear of always dancing on the cliff’s edge after having a trio of drinks. Steve Lavin talked well but recruited poorly, especially last year. His team was decimated, with only a couple of players returning… who may not have returned under Lavin either. Rysheed Jordan’s academics were unsalvageable for at least half of next season, and Chris Obekpa, who glowered at Lavin at times, ended the season with a marijuana suspension.

At least under Mullin there is the promise of a fresh start. A new approach. A coach who gets along with New York coaches. A coach who speaks more plainly, will (along with his staff) constantly work hard to recruit players, and will springboard off of what Steve Lavin had done to recruit players with high character.

But we don’t know what it looks like until those players are on the court, yet… but the emphasis has been on hard work.

One Comment

  1. Derec Lamendola

    July 30, 2015 at 11:59 am

    CRIAG LEIGHTON DEREC LAMENDOLA THIS ST JONS Head Coach Loooks OLD LOOKING ON HIS 70 S And ON HIS 80 S And Providence COLLLLEGE Will DO Somthing This Year Criag Leightion We Need a PLAN SOMTHING NEW

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