UConn guard Nahiem Alleyne transfers to St. John’s

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. — UConn guard Nahiem Alleyne became the third player to leave the program this month after helping the Huskies win the NCAA Tournament.

The 6-foot-4 senior announced on social media that he is transferring to St. John’s, posting a rendering of himself in a Red Storm uniform along with images of the Statue of Liberty, a New York cab, a sign for the school and coach Rick Pitino.

The post on Instagram received a “like” from UConn coach Dan Hurley.

The 3-point shooter and defensive specialist spent just one season at UConn, playing an average of just under 18 minutes a game and averaging 5.2 points. He averaged 7.2 points in UConn’s six NCAA Tournament games.

He spent his first three seasons at Virginia Tech and has one more year of eligibility remaining.

Alleyne joins guard Jordan Hawkins and center Adama Sanogo in leaving UConn this spring before exhausting their college eligibility. Both Sanogo and Hawkins have announced plays to enter the NBA draft.

Alleyne becomes the fourth transfer to join Pitino’s rebuilding effort at St. John’s, along with guards Daniss Jenkins and Cruz Davis, who followed their coach from Iona and VMI wing Sean Conway.

Rick Pitino returns to big stage at St. John’s: ‘I’ve earned it’

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – The video banner above the entrance to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday read: “Welcome Rick Pitino.”

More like welcome back for the new St. John’s coach.

Back to The Garden, where he once coached the Knicks.

Back to the Big East, the conference that launched his stardom and where he won his last NCAA championship.

Back to big-time college basketball after a series of scandals made it seem as if that part of his career was over.

“So, when I went to Iona, I said that Iona was going to be my last job,” Pitino said at his introductory news conference at MSG. “And the reason I said that is who’s going to hire a 70-year-old ? No matter how much I think I’m Peter Pan, who’s going hire a 70-year-old?”

St. John’s gave the Hall of Famer a six-year contract to turn back the clock on a program that once stole New York City tabloid headlines away from the Knicks in the 1980s under coach Lou Carnesecca but has been mired in mediocrity for more than two decades.

The Red Storm once played most of their biggest home games at The Garden. Pitino said the goal is to have all their Big East games played there going forward.

“Lou built a legendary program. Legendary,” Pitino said. “I’m all in with everything that St. John stands for. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait to get started.

“And it’s going to start with a culture of work.”

Pitino, who was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, has won 832 games in 34 full seasons as a college head coach, including NCAA championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013.

The title at Louisville was vacated for NCAA violations, and another NCAA case related to the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting led to Pitino being fired by Louisville in 2017.

The final ruling from the NCAA’s outside enforcement arm on the FBI case came down in November and exonerated Pitino.

There was also a criminal extortion case in which Pitino was the victim during his time at Louisville that revealed personal indiscretions.

“Well, it doesn’t matter what you believe, what you don’t believe,” Pitino said. “The one thing all my players have said, because they all wrote letters for me: I’ve never cheated the game. I never gave a player anything that he didn’t deserve in life.”

St. John’s president, the Rev. Brian Shanley, said the decision to hire Pitino was his call.

“Yeah, sure, there’s some reputational risk because of things that have happened before, but I think Rick is at a point in his life where he’s learned from things that have happened in the past,” Shanley told The Associated Press. “I think he’d be the first one to tell you he’s done things that he regrets. Who doesn’t when you get to be that age? I know I have. I’m a believer in forgiveness and new beginnings as a priest, and I think Rick’s going to do a great job for St. John’s.”

Carnesecca, 98 and getting around with the help of a walker these days, sat in the front row of Pitino’s news conference.

“I think it’s a home run with the bases loaded,” Carnesecca said.

Carnesecca was one of the Big East’s brightest coaching stars, along with Georgetown’s John Thompson and Villanova’s Rollie Massimino, when Pitino became Providence head coach in 1985 at the age of 32.

Thirty-eight years later, Pitino’s Providence ties helped him land at St. John’s after three seasons at Iona, a small Catholic school in New Rochelle, just north of New York City.

Shanley previously was the president of Providence. He helped turn around a lagging men’s basketball program by hiring coach Ed Cooley and investing in facilities upgrades.

“If I wasn’t a Providence Friar, he would have never even considered it,” Pitino said.

Shanley attempted to lure Pitino away from Louisville and back to Providence years ago, but he didn’t know much about the coach personally back then. He said he talked to a lot of people about Pitino this time around.

“I’d say my behind-the-scenes wisdom person was Mike Tranghese, the former commissioner of the Big East,” Shanley said. “He got me Ed Cooley last time, and I think we came out pretty well this time, too.”

Cooley was hired by Georgetown on Monday.

Pitino said he’s bringing his entire staff with him from Iona, which announced the hiring of Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tobin Anderson to replace Pitino earlier in the day.

Pitino will try to become the first coach to take six different schools to the NCAA Tournament as he gets one more shot on the big stage.

“I deserve it,” he said, “because I’ve earned it.”

Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino accepts job at St. John’s

Photo by Sonia Canada/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Rick Pitino is back in the Big East Conference.

St. John’s hired the Hall of Fame coach Monday to boost a storied program that’s been mired in mediocrity for much of this century. The school announced that Pitino will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Following a successful run at nearby mid-major Iona, the 70-year-old Pitino was plucked away to replace Mike Anderson, who was fired after four seasons in charge of the Red Storm without making the NCAA Tournament.

Reports quickly surfaced that St. John’s planned to target Pitino, who grew up on Long Island not far from the school’s Queens campus in New York City.

“Coach Pitino is one of the most brilliant minds in the history of the game and has won at the highest levels everywhere he has coached,” athletic director Mike Cragg said in a press release. “There is no doubt in my mind he will restore a championship-level program and culture for St. John’s Basketball.”

Pitino has been to seven Final Fours and won a pair of NCAA championships, one each at Kentucky (1996) and Louisville (2013).

He was dismissed at Louisville in 2017 after an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption led to allegations of NCAA violations. It was the third scandal, professional and personal, in an eight-year period with the Cardinals – but Pitino was eventually exonerated in the FBI-related case.

Pitino has been coaching college basketball so long that he was on the opposing bench with Big East rival Providence when St. John’s was a national power in the mid-1980s under Lou Carnesecca.

Now, he’s tasked with invigorating a Red Storm squad that hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game – or even reached the Big East semifinals – since 2000. The school has made only three NCAA appearances over the past two decades, the most recent coming in 2019 under Chris Mullin.

During that time, through several conference reconfigurations, St. John’s has fallen behind Big East foes with similar profiles such as Villanova, Providence and Seton Hall.

“One of my great coaching memories was having the distinct privilege of coaching against Lou Carnesecca and St. John’s, a Hall of Fame coach and historic program that I have always respected,” Pitino said. “It is surreal to now have this opportunity to bring St. John’s back to prominence. I’m honored, humbled and grateful.”

The Red Storm went 18-15 during a turbulent 2022-23 season, including 7-13 in Big East play to finish eighth in the conference standings. They blew a 14-point lead against sixth-ranked and top-seeded Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals, ending the season with a 72-70 loss in overtime that left Anderson with a 68-56 record at St. John’s, including 30-46 in Big East regular-season games.

Pitino has a .740 winning percentage in 35 seasons as a college basketball head coach. He has guided five schools to the NCAA Tournament, including Boston University (1983) and Iona (2021, 2023).

He took a surprising Providence team on a memorable run to the 1987 Final Four, but the 2013 national title Pitino won at Louisville (then in the Big East) was later vacated by the NCAA after an investigation found that an assistant coach paid escorts and exotic dancers to entertain players and recruits in campus dorms.

After two years coaching in Greece, he got the job at Iona – a small, private Catholic school located in New Rochelle, just north of New York City. And two years ago, he said the only reason he would leave would be to retire.

But his plans changed.

Pitino went 64-22 in three years with the Gaels, guiding them to two regular-season titles in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. Seeded 13th this year, they led No. 4 seed UConn at halftime before getting knocked out in the first round with an 87-63 loss that snapped a 14-game winning streak.

Pitino posted tweets thanking Iona administrators and “all those people who touched our lives.”

“To my players, the last three years. All I can say is you know how much I love you,” he tweeted. “Follow up, I’m not sad it ended. I’m so grateful it happened.”

Leading up to Iona’s NCAA Tournament game this year, Pitino said he hopes he can coach for 12 more years.

“But I’ll take six or seven,” he said.

Pitino had two stints in the NBA, one with the New York Knicks that featured a division title and a failed stretch with the Boston Celtics that didn’t produce a playoff appearance.

But in college, he’s endured only one losing season (13-14 at BU in 1980-81).

And now, at a time when Hall of Fame coaching contemporaries like Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim have reached the end of their road, Pitino is still going strong and getting new jobs.

St. John’s has the ninth-most wins among Division I teams, with 90 winning seasons in its 116-year basketball history.

The school has reached two Final Fours (1952, 1985) and won the NIT a record six times – including back-to-back crowns in the 1940s when that event was often considered the country’s premier postseason tournament.

Anderson plans to file an arbitration lawsuit against St. John’s, first reported by ESPN, over the approximately $11 million he would have been owed by the school had he not been fired “for cause.”

“I vehemently disagree with the University’s decision to terminate my contract for cause. The ‘for cause’ accusation is wholly without merit and I will be aggressively defending my contractual rights through an arbitration process,” Anderson said in a statement provided to the AP by M Group Strategic Communications CEO Jay Morakis, who confirmed the former Red Storm coach has retained attorney John Singer of Singer Deutsch to handle the case.

St. John’s declined to comment.

Everett hits shot with 0.3 left, St. John’s women edge Purdue

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jayla Everett made a go-ahead shot with 0.3 seconds left and St. John’s edged Purdue 66-64 on Thursday night in a First Four game.

St. John’s (23-8), a No. 11 seed making its 11th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, advances to play sixth-seeded North Carolina in the first round on Saturday.

Everett curled off a screen and sank a jumper from the free-throw line with 1:30 left for a 64-62 lead. But the Red Storm turned it over on their next possession and Lasha Petree made a shot in the lane to tie it at 64-all with 30.3 left.

After a timeout, Mimi Reid dribbled down the clock before starting the offense with about 10 seconds left. Everett drove the right side of the lane and had the ball knocked loose before corralling it and sinking a shot from a difficult angle.

Everett finished with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Unique Drake added 16 points with four 3-pointers for St. John’s. Drake was 4 of 6 from distance, Everett made 3 of 6 and St. John’s finished 11 of 23 after entering averaging just 6.2 makes per game.

Everett was called for a technical foul with 3:48 remaining in the fourth quarter for arguing with an official after she appeared to cleanly block a shot. Petree celebrated the call and made contact with an opponent, leading to an intentional foul. The two fouls offset, but Everett went to the bench with four fouls before returning with 2:07 left.

Petree had 20 points and eight rebounds for Purdue (19-11), which was making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2017. Caitlyn Harper scored 14 points.

St. John’s scored 22 points off 16 Purdue turnovers.

Everett scored nine points in the third quarter and Drake made St. John’s 11th 3-pointer late in the frame for a 60-45 lead – its largest of the game.

St. John’s fires men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson

Sarah Stier/Getty Images
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NEW YORK — St. John’s fired men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson one day after his fourth season in charge ended with an overtime loss to No. 6 Marquette in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

Athletic director Mike Cragg announced the move in a news release, saying the school has begun a national search for a new coach to lead the program.

The decision comes just two years after Anderson was the Big East coach of the year, earning him a contract extension through the 2026-27 season.

But the Red Storm never made the NCAA Tournament under Anderson. They went 18-15 during a rocky 2022-23 season, including 7-13 in Big East play to finish eighth in the conference standings.

“After fully evaluating the men’s basketball program, our University has decided a change is needed in both the leadership and direction of St. John’s Basketball,” Cragg said in the release. “We wish Coach Mike Anderson and his family the best in their future.”

Anderson, the 21st coach in school history, succeeded St. John’s great Chris Mullin at the helm and went 68-56 during his four seasons.

Associate head coach Van Macon will lead the program “for the interim” until a new coach is hired, the school said.

St. John’s won its first-round game in the Big East Tournament over Butler on Wednesday before blowing a 14-point lead against top-seeded Marquette at Madison Square Garden.

After the game, Anderson said his team would like to play in the NIT if invited and he would definitely like to be back at St. John’s.

“Without a doubt. I look forward to this team, guys,” he said.

Even before the move became official there was speculation St. John’s would target Iona coach Rick Pitino as Anderson’s replacement. The 70-year-old former Kentucky and Louisville coach has roots in the Big East and grew up on Long Island, not far from the St. John’s campus in Queens.

Although the Red Storm have won a Big East Tournament game in six of the past seven years, St. John’s still hasn’t reached the semifinals since winning the school’s third championship in 2000 – even though the event is held on one of its home courts.

This season got off to a strong start with a 10-1 record against a weak nonconference schedule, but the Red Storm were a disappointment in Big East competition.

The highlights were wins over ranked opponents in UConn and Providence. But there was trouble off the court.

Junior guard Andre Curbelo, a touted transfer from Illinois who led the team in assists, was suspended for one Big East game and benched for three others. He missed the final three games of the season in concussion protocol.

Reserve guard Rafael Pinzon, a high school teammate of Curbelo’s on Long Island, was suspended indefinitely and sat out the last six games of the season.

Anderson’s dismissal at St. John’s came one day after longtime Big East rival Georgetown fired coach Patrick Ewing.

Anderson has never had a losing season in 21 years as a Division I head coach at UAB, Missouri, Arkansas and St. John’s. He has a 437-256 record overall.

He played at Tulsa and was a longtime assistant for Hall of Fame coach Nolan Richardson, who won the 1994 national championship at Arkansas.

Kolek rallies No. 6 Marquette past pesky St. John’s in OT

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – With the regular-season champs in danger of a quick knockout at the Big East Tournament, Tyler Kolek wouldn’t let it happen.

The conference player of the year scored all 19 of his points after halftime, including the tiebreaking free throws with 15.8 seconds left in overtime, and No. 6 Marquette rallied for a 72-70 victory against scrappy St. John’s in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 16 points, several on highlight-reel dunks, and the top-seeded Golden Eagles (26-6) advanced to play 11th-ranked UConn in the first semifinal Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The fourth-seeded Huskies held off No. 5 seed Providence, 73-66.

“We faced a lot of adversity today, and the guys stared down the adversity. They stayed connected,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said.

Kolek also had nine rebounds, six assists and two steals in his team’s largest comeback victory of the season.

“I feel like it’s our resiliency. That’s what we’re about,” Prosper said.

Marquette has won seven straight and 12 of 13, reaching the Big East semifinals for the fourth time overall and first since 2019.

But this one was anything but easy in a back-and-forth battle.

“I wouldn’t say we’re inexperienced anymore just because of everything we’ve gone through this year, all the experiences we’ve had, all the close games we’ve won and lost,” said Kolek, a left-handed point guard. “And that’s just made us better. I think coming into the postseason we’re as prepared as we can be.”

The Golden Eagles, who trailed by 14 late in the first half, turned up their defensive intensity to avoid an upset. They escaped when Posh Alexander’s good look at a 3-pointer for St. John’s glanced off the front rim at the overtime buzzer.

Oso Ighodaro had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette, making several key plays down the stretch. Kam Jones added 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Dylan Addae-Wusu and David Jones each scored 16 to lead eighth-seeded St. John’s (18-15), which beat No. 9 seed Butler 76-63 in the first round Wednesday.

Although the Red Storm have won a Big East Tournament game in six of the past seven years, St. John’s still hasn’t reached the semifinals since winning the school’s third championship in 2000 – even though the event is held on one of its home courts.

Addae-Wusu, a major thorn in Marquette’s side during all three meetings this season, scored nine straight Red Storm points down the stretch and 11 of their last 14 in regulation.

His layup tied it 61-all with 4.6 seconds remaining, aided by a terrific screen from big man Joel Soriano.

Kolek scored seven of Marquette’s 11 points in the extra period – five at the free-throw line.

“I thought he took over,” St. John’s coach Mike Anderson said.

St. John’s was 0 for 7 from the field in OT, getting all nine of its points at the foul line.

Soriano finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for his 25th double-double this season, most in the nation. But he hobbled off with an apparent leg injury with 3.9 seconds to go in OT following a scramble for an offensive rebound, and the senior center wasn’t on the floor for the Red Storm’s final play.

“What a game. Just proud of our guys,” Anderson said. “The guys are hurting in there right now.”


St. John’s: It was another heartbreaking Big East quarterfinal defeat for the underdog Red Storm, who led second-seeded eventual champion Villanova by 17 in the second half last year before losing by one. St. John’s also lost in overtime in the 2021 quarterfinals, to Seton Hall.

Marquette: The top seed for the first time, Marquette has never been to the Big East championship game since joining the league in 2005. … Improved to 6-0 against St. John’s in this event.


Kolby King’s career high was five points before the freshman guard scored eight straight off the bench – including a pair of 3s – during a 16-0 run that helped St. John’s open a 34-20 lead late in the first half.


St. John’s guard Andre Curbelo missed his third consecutive game in concussion protocol. The junior transfer from Illinois is averaging 9.6 points and a team-high 4.4 assists per game. … Red Storm reserve Rafael Pinzon, suspended indefinitely, sat out his sixth straight game.


St. John’s: Following a rocky season, Anderson said his team would like to play in the NIT if invited. St. John’s hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament under Anderson, leading to speculation about his job security after four years at the helm. He said he would definitely like to be back. “Without a doubt. I look forward to this team, guys,” Anderson said.

Marquette: Split two regular-season meetings with UConn. The Golden Eagles haven’t lost since an 87-72 setback Feb. 7 at Connecticut.