When the NCAA declared St. John’s freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. a partial qualifier last month, head coach Chris Mullin lost his lone true point guard for the 2015-16 season. However, according to a report the freshman may be able to take the floor this season for the Red Storm.
Per the report, should LoVett put together a good fall semester in the classroom he’d be able to join his teammates in game action beginning with the Red Storm’s game against Incarnate Word December 18.
Without LoVett the Red Storm have relied on fellow freshman Federico Mussini to run the point. Mussini, who’s playing more than 34 minutes per game, leads the team in scoring (14.4 ppg) and is second in assists (2.9 apg) but has tallied more assists (23) than turnovers (26) through the first eight games. Senior guard Felix Balamou currently leads the team with an average of 3.6 assists per game, with freshman Malik Ellison (2.5 apg) currently out with a foot injury.
Exhibition defeat reminder of how far St. John’s has to go
When Chris Mullin was named head coach at St. John’s in the spring there was a great deal of excitement and with good reason. The program’s greatest player was returning, and while Mullin would be embarking on his first adventure as a head coach at any level the hope was that with a talented coaching staff he’d be able to ensure that the Red Storm would be a consistent NCAA tournament team.
But working with a roster that needed a lot of work upon the arrival of he and his staff, this process won’t be an overnight one for Mullin. And if anyone needed a reminder of this, they received it Wednesday night at Carnessecca Arena. Playing their first exhibition against outside competition, the Red Storm fell to Division II St. Thomas Aquinas by the final score of 90-58.
What could go wrong did go wrong for the home team, beginning with the absence of two freshmen expected to be key contributors this season. Point guard Marcus LoVett Jr. and power forward Kassoum Yakwe were both sidelined for the exhibition, as they’ve yet to be cleared for competition (both can practice) by the NCAA. But even if those two were available to Mullin, it’s unlikely that their presence would have changed the outcome of Wednesday’s exhibition.
As a team the Red Storm shot 37 percent from the field and committed a staggering 28 turnovers on the night, struggling with fundamentals (boxing out, ball control, finding quality shots, you name it) and chemistry on both ends of the floor. Given how many newcomers are in this group, the cohesion issues shouldn’t be seen as a major surprise. But there were no excuses coming from the head coach following the loss, with Mullin taking responsibility for what occurred on the Carnessecca Arena floor.
Mullin: "It's embarrassing but there's no pointing fingers. I take the responsibility. I thought they were more prepared than they were."
But to get beat as they did by St. Thomas Aquinas, which to be fair returns five of its top seven scorers from last season and looked as if they expected to win, is certainly an eye-opener for the Red Storm.
The good news for St. John’s is that the game won’t count against their official record, and they’ve got plenty of “teachable moments” to use as they move towards the start of the regular season. St. John’s has one more exhibition (November 7 against Sonoma State) before they open up the regular season against Wagner November 13.
Academic issues expected to sideline St. John’s point guard for fall semester, maybe longer
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.
St. John’s lands 2015 point guard Marcus LoVett Jr.
Having already added six players to the program since taking over as head coach at St. John’s, Chris Mullin has reeled in a seventh addition.
Late Wednesday night four-star point guard Marcus LoVett Jr., one of the most entertaining players in the class, announced via his Twitter account that he’s committed to the Big East program. LoVett posted a photo of his signed National Letter of Intent, which will become official once the school announces that it has received it.
LoVett is the third freshman to join the St. John’s program for the 2015-16 season, joining two-guard Malik Ellison and 6-foot-11 center Yankuba Sims. Also making their way to Queens this summer are Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens, junior college transfer Darien Williams (sophomore), former Missouri State guard Ron Mvuoika and former Pitt wing Durand Johnson.
Johnson and Mvouika will be eligible immediately as graduate students, and Owens will have to sit out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules.
The 6-foot LoVett is a quick point guard who can handle the basketball and put points on the board, and he gives the Red Storm depth at the position. Rysheed Jordan, who averaged 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season, is expected to run the show for Mullin next season. LoVett gives St. John’s another option at the point, and Mullin could also play the two together at times.
LoVett, who played his senior year at Morgan Park HS in Chicago, was also considering Memphis, Illinois, UC Irvine, DePaul, Pittsburgh, UNLV and San Diego State.
Senior mixtape of four-star guard Marcus LoVett Jr. (VIDEO)
Class of 2015 guard Marcus LoVett Jr. always puts out some impressive highlights in mixtapes and this one from his senior season is no different. The 6-foot-0 guard made some dazzling plays running with Morgan Park High School in Chicago and here’s his latest from Ball is Life Midwest.
LoVett is still uncommitted and waiting to decide his college basketball future.