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St. John’s freshman Sid Wilson transferring

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Sid Wilson’s stay at St. John’s was a short one.

The Red Storm announced Tuesday that the freshman wing from New York would transfer, citing personal reasons.

“A lot has happened in my life over the last few years,” Wilson said in a statement released by the school. “These factors played a large part in my decision to stay close to home, but unfortunately I recently realized it was not what is best for me at this time to manage adversity in my life.

“I am grateful for the opportunity that St. John’s provided me and for the support of coach (Chris) Mullin and the rest of the staff throughout this difficult process. In order for me to grow as a person and basketball player, I feel that I need to begin something new to explore what is next in my life. Although I know the grass isn’t always greener, this is a risk I am willing to take for personal reasons.”

Wilson attended his first three years of high school in the Bronx before transfering to prep powerhouse Brewster Academy for his senior season. He averaged 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as Brewster won a national prep championship. He chose St. John’s over the likes of UConn, Texas, Florida and Syracuse as a consensus top-100 recruit in the 2017 class.

“We know this was not an easy decision for Sid, so we are supportive of him as he strives to find the right fit,” Mullin said in a statement. “He is a good person and talented player who we wish the best as he begins his new journey.”

St. John’s went 14-19 last season, Mullin’s second at his alma mater. Brian Trimble, a three-star guard from Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan., was the only other member of the Red Storm’s 2017 class, though the team returns much of last year’s youthful roster.

VIDEO: Benches clear in Georgetown-St. John’s, Mullin and Thompson III separated

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First, Villanova goes and wins a national championship last season. Now, two once-powerful programs nearly clear the benches.

Is the Big East completely back?

Well, short of that, Georgetown and St. John’s provided some of that old-school Big East animosity Wednesday with a heated exchange in their first-round matchup at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

So amid that bit of chaos, you’ve got Red Storm coach Chris Mullin yelling at Hoyas coach John Thompson III, and Georgetown assistant coach Patrick Ewing, Jr. needing to be restrained.

I feel like that sentence would be very confusing to someone in 1992.

So would “Ninth-seeded Georgetown and eighth-seeded St. John’s matchup in Big East tournament opener,” but that’s kind of where we are at the moment.

Clearly, neither of these programs are at the place they were in the heyday of the Big East, but some good old fashion bad blood is a nice reminder that while the Big East has been reconfigured, it hasn’t lost its soul.

Report: St. John’s, associate head coach Rohrssen to part ways

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When St. John’s hired one its’ all-time greats in Chris Mullin to run the program last spring, one of the first hires to the staff was Barry “Slice” Rohrssen as associate head coach. With his past experiences as both an assistant and head coach, Rohrssen’s abilities as a recruiter and his connections in the New York metropolitan area made him a key hire for Mullin.

Tuesday night it was reported by SNY.tv that the two parties have decided to part ways, leaving Mullin with a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. Rohrssen’s departure leaves Greg St. Jean and Matt Abdelmassih as the current assistants on Mullin’s staff, with the latter also being regarded as a good recruiter.

But how valuable was the Brooklyn native considered to be upon his hiring at St. John’s? His deal ran for six years, with Mullin’s deal being a five-year contract. Also to be considered in this: the move comes one day before the start of the program’s elite camp.

Rohrssen played a key role on Ben Howland’s and Jamie Dixon’s staffs at Pittsburgh, as his connections in the New York metropolitan area helped the program bring in recruits such as Brandin Knight (from nearby New Jersey), Carl Krauser, Chris Taft and Levance Fields. That success led to the Panthers becoming a power in the Big East during the early to mid-2000’s.

Rohrssen had two stints at Pittsburgh, with the second being followed by a season with John Calipari at Kentucky (2014-15).

A key for St. John’s on the recruiting trail has been establishing themselves as a player in New York City after not enjoying much success recruiting area prospects during Steve Lavin’s tenure as head coach. In the 2016 class the Red Storm managed to reel in two local players expected to have a major impact next season in junior college transfer Bashir Ahmed and freshman guard Shamorie Ponds.

No. 6 Villanova has big 2nd half, tops St. John’s 68-53

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NEW YORK (AP) Josh Hart had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Kris Jenkins added 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 6 Villanova to 68-53 victory over St. John’s on Sunday, the Red Storm’s 12th straight loss.

The Wildcats (18-3, 8-1) held onto first place in the Big East by bouncing back from a horrible first half to pull away in the final minutes. The Wildcats shot 50 percent (14 of 28) from the field in the second half and held at least a 10-point lead over the final 13 minutes. The biggest lead was 20 points.

Mikal Bridges added 13 points for Villanova, which finished with a slight rebound advantage. The Wildcats had a nine-game winning streak snapped by No. 10 Providence in their last game.

Durand Johnson had 13 points to lead St. John’s (7-15, 0-9), which struggled with turnovers throughout the game at Madison Square Garden, committing 21, well above its season average of 14.6. Villanova had 20 turnovers.

The first half was a terrible exhibition of shooting and ball-handling.

Villanova, which came in third in the conference at 46.4 percent from the field, shot 7 for 30 (23.3 percent), including 2 for 10 from 3-point range. It was the Wildcats’ worst first half shooting this season. They shot 26.7 percent (8 of 30) in a 78-55 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma in Hawaii.

St. John’s shot 32.3 percent (10 for 31), 5 for 11 on 3-point attempts, and the Red Storm had 10 turnovers, one less than Villanova, which came into the game averaging 10.9 for 40 minutes.

OUT: Villanova center Daniel Ochefu didn’t play. The 6-foot-11 senior suffered a concussion during practice on Friday. Ochefu is averaging 9.7 points and a team-leading 8.3 rebounds. He is shooting 59.6 percent from the field, fifth in the Big East.

FAMOUS FANS: It wasn’t as impressive as the celebrities the New York Knicks draw but in attendance Sunday was tennis great John McEnroe, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Hall of Fame St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca.

TIP-INS:

Villanova: The Wildcats have a six-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden that includes last season’s Big East Tournament. … This was the 112th meeting between the schools with the first game in 1909. St. John’s leads the series 60-52. … Villanova hit its first 3-pointer of the second half exactly 12 minutes earlier (15:45) than the Wildcats did in the first half.

St. John’s: Before the current streak, the longest losing streak in school history was seven games. … This was the sixth game the Red Storm played without freshman center Yankuba Sima, who broke his hand. In the previous five games St. John’s did not outrebound an opponent. The last game – a loss to Seton Hall – saw the Red Storm outrebounded 56-40. … St. John’s entered the game first in the Big East and seventh nationally with 6.2 blocks per game.

UP NEXT

Villanova hosts Creighton on Tuesday.

St. John’s at No. 7 Xavier on Tuesday.

No. 12 Providence beats St. John’s 83-65

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Kris Dunn had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead No. 12 Providence to an 83-65 victory over St. John’s 83-65 on Saturday, the Friars’ eighth straight win.

Dunn scored 12 straight points for the Friars in the second half after the Red Storm closed within 56-50 with 9:30 remaining. Providence led 43-31 at halftime and went up by as many as 17 points early in the second half before St. John’s went on its run.

A preseason All-America, Dunn cooled off the Red Storm with consecutive 3-pointers that helped the Friars (14-1, 2-0 Big East) re-establish control.

Providence’s Ben Bentil overcame a slow start to finish with 20 points and nine rebounds while Rodney Bullock had 13 points and eight rebounds. Kyron Cartwright added 11 points, all in the first half.

Yankuba Sima had 14 points for St. John’s (7-8, 0-2), which lost its fifth straight.

TIP-INS

St. John’s: The Red Storm entered play Saturday tied for fifth in Division I with 6.5 blocks per game.

Providence: With the win at Butler on Thursday, the Friars finished December with a 7-0 record. It marks the first time the team went undefeated in December since posting a 7-0 mark in 1988-89.

UP NEXT

St. John’s hosts No. 6 Xavier on Wednesday.

Providence hosts Marquette on Tuesday.

St. John’s lands highly regarded JUCO forward Ahmed

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On the day after Christmas the St. John’s basketball program received some very good news on the recruiting front, as one of the top junior college prospects in the nation made his pledge to Chris Mullin’s program.

6-foot-7 small forward Bashir Ahmed, a native of the Bronx who’s currently a sophomore at Hutchinson CC in Kansas, verbally committed to St. John’s Saturday morning. News of his commitment was first reported by the New York Post, and for quite some time the Red Storm were viewed as the favorites to land Ahmed. In addition to St. John’s, Ahmed also took official visits to Cincinnati and Texas.

One of the keys to his recruitment was the presence of assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih, who began recruiting Ahmed while on Fred Hoiberg’s staff at Iowa State. That relationship carried over after Abdelmassih made the move to Queens, and in the end the St. John’s program has a second highly regarded commitment with guard Shamorie Ponds being the first.

Ahmed’s currently averaging 19.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game at Hutchinson, and he fills a position of need for St. John’s. Both Durand Johnson and Ron Mvuoika are graduate students playing their final season of eligibility, opening the door for Ahmed to play a lot of minutes in 2016-17. The Red Storm are also still in the running for prospects such as five-star guard Rawle Alkins and 6-foot-8 small forward Richard Freudenberg.