New St. John’s head coach Chris Mullin will have a roster filled with newcomers in 2015-16, and on Friday he lost a returnee who was expected to be a major factor in the rotation.
Rysheed Jordan, who started 21 games and averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a sophomore, has played his last game in a St. John’s uniform. The program announced Friday that Jordan will instead pursue professional opportunities, thus ending a couple weeks of uncertainty regarding his status for next season.
“Playing professional basketball has always been a goal of mine. I believe I am ready to take the next step in my basketball career and plan to work hard to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA,” Jordan said in the release. “I am thankful for the opportunities and support St. John’s University has provided to me. This decision was made with my family’s best interests in mind.”
A couple weeks ago it was reported by the New York Daily News that academic issues were expected to sideline Jordan for the fall semester, if not longer. With his departure, the Red Storm lose a piece who would have provided experience and depth at the point guard position.
St. John’s adds freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. to the program, and players such as fellow incoming freshman Malik Ellison and rising senior Felix Balamou could also find themselves in a position where they’re asked to serve as a primary ball-handler.
Jordan’s departure means that the Red Storm have two available scholarships for next season, and the staff is currently recruiting Italian guard Federico Mussini. His recruitment becomes even more important for the Red Storm with Jordan moving on.
After averaging 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a sophomore, Rysheed Jordan was expected to be an integral figure for St. John’s in 2015-16 under new head coach Chris Mullin. However, according to a report that may not be the case.
According to the New York Daily News, Jordan is expected to be declared academically ineligible for the fall semester and “it’s possible he may not play again” at St. John’s. For a team that lost a lot from last year’s NCAA tournament team, including guards Phil Greene IV and D’Angelo Harrison, not having Jordan would pose a huge issue for Mullin and his staff as they look to get off to a successful start.
A source close to the St. John’s program said a departure is not a done deal. Jordan has been told what he must do in school during the summer session and fall semester in order to be able to play from mid-December through March. He is expected to meet with new coach Chris Mullin in the coming week, and a decision could be made then on whether he will continue at St. John’s.
However, a source close to Jordan said that he already has told those close to him in Philadelphia that his time with the Johnnies is through.
The Red Storm aren’t the deepest team at the point guard position, with Jordan and recent signee Marcus LoVett Jr. being the options. St. John’s still has a scholarship available for the 2015-16 season, and given this news looking for a late signee is likely.
While Jordan has displayed the talent that made him one of the top players in the Class of 2013, there have also been bumps in the road during his two seasons at St. John’s. This latest news, especially if he’s played his last game at the school, would be an unfortunate conclusion to his time with the program.
Chris Mullin’s had a string of good news since he landed the head coaching job at St. John’s earlier this month.
If landing top recruiters Mat Abdelmassih and Barry ‘Slice’ Rohrssen wasn’t enough, Mullin also got word that center Chris Obekpa would be returning to school and that Darien Williams and Yankuba Sima would be joining the program.
And late on Tuesday night, he got word that star guard Rysheed Jordan will be returning to Queens for his junior season.
Jordan averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 boards and 3.1 assists this past season, but there was some speculation that he would be entering his name into the NBA Draft. Returning is the right move for Jordan, as he likely would have gone undrafted has he left school this season.
Chris Mullin wasted little time since accepting the head coaching position at his alma mater. The new St. John’s coach has offered several local recruits and hired a key assistant coach in Matt Abdelmassih. On Monday night, during the national championship game, it was reported that Mullin will retain one of his key returners.
Chris Obekpa, the shotblocking junior, will reportedly stay at St. John’s for his senior season, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Obekpa, the only big man on the St. John’s roster last season, was suspended for two weeks on March 15, hours before Selection Sunday.
Following a season-ending loss to San Diego State in the Round of 64, Steve Lavin said to reporters, “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he doesn’t return to St. John’s.” Six days later, Lavin and St. John’s agreed to part ways after five seasons.
Obekpa averaged 5.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. The 6-foot-10 Obekpa was one of two players Mullin was looking to retain. The other being sophomore guard Rysheed Jordan, who finished second on the team in scoring. According to a report on Monday night from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Jordan is also leaning toward returning to St. John’s as well.
Even if Jordan rejoins Obekpa and the Johnnies, Mullin will still have his work cut out for him, as no other returner averaged more than 9.0 minutes per game last season, and Brandon Sampson, the program’s top commit, reopened his recruitment on Lavin left.
There are two important things to note about Rysheed Jordan’s dunk for St. John’s on Saturday afternoon.
First of all, look at the baseline ref’s reaction. Hilarious:
Second of all, it wasn’t even close to the best dunk of the day. This was.
St. John’s suffered a painful loss at Creighton on Wednesday night, dropping them to 2-5 in the tough Big East, but that wasn’t the only damage from their trip to Omaha.
Guard Rysheed Jordan strained his patella in the loss. He did not return to the game, which the Johnnies lost 77-74.
“With Rysheed injured it put us in a tough spot yet the team fought hard and rallied from down double digits in a tough environment,” head coach Steve Lavin tweeted, adding that Jordan will be reevaluated when the team gets back to Queens.
Losing Jordan for a significant period of time would be a brutal blow to a team that is already struggling with depth issues. The Johnnies need to get to at least nine or ten wins in the league if they want a chance at an at-large bid, and missing a guy that is averaging 13.4 points and played at least 36 minutes in the prior four games will make that tough.