St. John’s Basketball 2017-2018 Preview
2016-17 Record: 14-19
Key Losses: Federico Mussini, Malik Ellison, Richard Freudenberg, Darien Williams
Key Additions: Bryan Trimble, Mikey Dixon, Justin Simon, Marvin Clark Jr.
The Big East was a tough conference last season, and with seven teams finishing with 19 or more wins, some teams have to be the punching bag. St. John’s got beaten up a lot last season, but at times looked like a well oiled machine. Back to back wins against Syracuse and Butler were the bright spot for the Red Storm, but with one of the youngest teams in the conference, there is only room for improvement.
With only one senior on the roster last year, the rest of St. John’s departures come from transfers. Most were role players on the team but the one that hurts the most is Federico Mussini. The Italian native shot the lights out from deep last season, and looked to have even more potential in the coming seasons in the states, but decided to return to Europe this summer in hopes of turning pro.
Returning for St. John’s is an exciting bunch. Freshman backcourt Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett averaged a combined 33 points per game, and were the best shooters on the team, behind only Mussini. Ponds lead the conference in steals per game, and LoVett was fourth in the conference in assists.
At small forward the Red Storm has Bashir Ahmed. Ahmed thought about trying his luck in the NBA draft this summer, but eventually pulled out to return to New York for his senior season.
Last season he averaged 13 points and five rebounds at St. John’s, and should have similar room for production next season.
In the backcourt, St. John’s has junior big men Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe. Standing at 6’11” and 6’7” Owens and Yakwe were one and two in blocks per game last season in the Big East. While neither are offensive stars, they are the anchors of the St. John’s defense and do a great job of protecting the paint.
Joining those returning players are freshman Sidney Wilson and Bryan Trimble. Wilson, a four star small forward, was heavily recruited by UConn, Texas, and Florida for his athleticism and ability to finish strong in the paint. Trimble, a three star shooting guard, originally signed a letter of intent to play at Florida state, but then decommitted and joined the Red Storm. He is a great shooter and overall scorer, and should be a great replacement for Mussini.
In addition to those freshman, St. John’s has three transfer players joining the team next year. Mikey Dixon, a guard from Quinnipiac, will have to sit out this season, but will have three years of eligibility afterwards. Justin Simon, is a guard from Arizona, who will begin his three years of eligibility this season. Marvin Clark Jr. is a forward from Michigan who will also be eligible this season.
With all this young talent, St. John’s looks ready to make some noise in the Big East, and on the national stage, if not now, then soon.
Prospective starting lineup:
- Marcus LoVett
- Shamorie Ponds
- Bashir Ahmed
- Kassoum Yakwe
- Tariq Owens
Photo credit: NY Daily News