A new era of St. John’s Red Storm basketball is marked by Rick Pitino and a plethora of transfers.
If you didn’t think Rick Pitino would try and drastically change the course of the St. John’s Red Storm, you would be very wrong. Pitino pretty much overhauled the entire Johnnies’ roster and replaced it with transfers from all over the country.
Not all of the transfers come to St. John’s from playing power conference basketball, but Pitino still got some complete gems. Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins, Penn transfer Jordan Dingle, Harvard transfer Chris Ledlum, UConn transfer Nahiem Alleyne, Oregon State transfer Glenn Taylor Jr., and UMass transfer RJ Luis all bring scoring, experience, and a fresh start to a struggling Red Storm program.
Pitino will no doubt bring a new fire to the St. John’s Red Storm that hasn’t been there consistently in decades. It could be tough to get such a new team to gel together, but with so much talent on the court, it’s a St. John’s team that should compete at the top of the Big East.
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Head coach: Rick Pitino (36th season, 1st at St. John’s)
2022-23 record: 18-15 (7-13)
2023 postseason finish: No postseason
Notable departures: David Jones (Transferred to Memphis), Posh Alexander (Transferred to Butler), Andre Curbelo (Transferred to Southern Miss), Montez Mathis (Graduated), Dylan Addae-Wusu (Transferred to Seton Hall), AJ Storr (Transferred to Wisconsin), Rafael Pinzon (Transferred to Bryant), O’Mar Stanley (Transferred to Boise State)
Notable non-conference games: vs. Michigan (Nov. 13), vs. North Texas (Nov. 16, in Charleston), Charleston Classic (Nov. 17 & 19), at West Virginia (Dec. 1), vs. Boston College (Dec. 10), vs. Fordham (Dec. 16)
PG: Daniss Jenkins (6-4, 180, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 36.1 3P% (Iona)
SG: Jordan Dingle (6-3, 196, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 23.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 35.6 3P% (Penn)
SF: Glenn Taylor Jr. (6-6, 205, Jr.)
2022-23 stats: 11.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 APG (Oregon State)
PF: Chris Ledlum (6-6, 225, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.8 SPG, 1.1 BPG (Harvard)
C: Joel Soriano (6-11, 255, Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 15.2 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.4 BPG, 56.3 FG%
6: Simeon Wilcher (6-4, 180, Fr.)
247Sports Composite No. 34 rated recruit
7: Nahiem Alleyne (6-4, 200, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 5.2 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 36.2 FG% (UConn)
8: RJ Luis (6-7, 196, So.)
2022-23 stats: 11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 34.8 3P% (UMass)
9: Zuby Ejiofor (6-9, 237, So.)
2022-23 stats: 1.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.2 APG, 5.1 MPG (Kansas)
10: Sean Conway (6-4, 200, Gr.-Sr.)
2022-23 stats: 12.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 37.8 3P% (VMI)
11: Cruz Davis (6-3, 172, So.)
2022-23 stats: 6.5 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.0 APG (Iona)
12: Sadiku Ibine Ayo (6-6, 205, So.)
2022-23 stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.2 APG, 38.5 FG% (Iona)
St. John’s Red Storm MVP: Joel Soriano
Although plenty of St. John’s players transferred out, their top scorer and beast down low decided to return. Joel Soriano is arguably right up there with Ryan Kalkbrenner as the best big man in the Big East.
Heading into this season, I expect Soriano to be even more unstoppable. With so many great guards – who are almost all scoring threats – teams can no longer key in on Soriano. It’s a very diverse Red Storm team with talent all up and down the roster. Soriano should be able to benefit from this.
What sets Soriano apart is his ferocious rebounding. Not only can Soriano be a tough player to guard inside, but he is also tough to keep off the glass. Opposing teams need to muscle up and be strong to take Soriano out of the game. He’s the most difficult St. John’s player to limit.
St. John’s Red Storm make-or-break player: Jordan Dingle
Multiple players could be Soriano’s sidekick, but I’m looking at Dingle, the transfer from Penn. Last season, Dingle led the NCAA in points per game, but did so playing in the Ivy League. Adjusting to the Big East could be a major challenge, depending on how Dingle responds to the physicality of the league.
One thing going for Dingle is his size. At 6-3, 196, he’s certainly got the strength to match up in the conference. He also has slightly proved his ability to score against Big East teams in the past. Last season, Dingle dropped 23 points in the second half against Villanova, showing that, especially with even more talented around him at St. John’s, he can score against anyone he plays.
With Daniss Jenkins running the point and Soriano commanding the paint, Dingle should be free to lock in and score from all areas of the court.
Key analytic: BPG
It’s not even worth looking at a St. John’s analytic, because this team is so drastically different. Instead, let’s look at Pitino’s Iona teams.
One consistent theme was how well the Gaels were at blocking shots. Nelly Junior Joseph, who is now with New Mexico, and Richard Pitino, was the main catalyst. But besides him, the past few Iona teams always had athletic players who could block shots. Look for this St. John’s Red Storm team to model that type of defense.
Soriano is a no-brainer to benefit from Pitino’s aggressive defense. However, Chris Ledlum (1.1 BPG in 2022-23), Glenn Taylor Jr., and RJ Luis are unique forwards who can play multiple positions and should also thrive in Pitino’s defensive system.
St. John’s Red Storm 2023-24 projections
Projected conference finish: 5th in the Big East
Projected postseason ceiling: NCAA Tournament – Final Four Appearance