Recruiting Rundown: St. John’s depth grows with under-the-radar commits

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There’s been a clear emphasis at St. John’s for coach Steve Lavin and his assistants to build the program through depth. Failures to obtain eligibility, transfers and NBA early entry all prevented this year’s Red Storm team from gaining traction, but if the current trend continues, St. John’s could have all hands on deck for next year.

Over the weekend, St. John’s landed three new players for next year according to reports, including two junior college teammates from their backyard at Monroe College. Still, the additions, though important, were largely overlooked on the national scale. There is more than enough reason for fans to be excited as the program develops, despite a lack of attention towards the movements.

It could be a solid plan to build a pipeline to Monroe College, as the Bronx-based junior college had an excellent 33-4 season, and puts swingman Marco Bourgault and Orlando Sanchez into the Big East next year. Both players averaged around 10 points per game last season.

Also, Harvard-transfer Max Hooper, an exceptional outside shooter, will be set to join the team, though he’ll need to sit out next year. He tripped and decided over the weekend.

None of the three players are world beaters, but are necessary steps in building relevance for the most-regarded basketball program in the Big Apple. As a matter of fact, there’s reason to believe that St. John’s could be pretty solid, especially when Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch (shown above playing against God’s Gift Achiuwa) is ready to hit the floor in December.

Sanchez will provide an additional body inside, while Bourgault can be a shooting threat. There aren’t any stars left for St. John’s to sink their teeth into, but the Red Storm need bodies and role players to go with some of the team’s emerging talents.

Another wild card could be departed Arizona point guard Josiah Turner, who is considering the Johnnies according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog. Turner will need to stay out of his own way to ply his trade, but a pure defensive-minded point guard like Branch could take the pressure off Turner to distribute the ball. Assuming he can grow up and succeed in a big city, he could be the spark that sends St. John’s back to prominence.

For a time, when St. John’s had no commitments and only a handful expected returners, things looked grim. That situation has turned around, and it appears as if the program is fully building for the future.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.