I should be excited that St. John's coach Norm Roberts is hard on the grind this month during the summer "live" recruiting period, where coaches can be seen watching the games of the prospects, where men wear brightly-colored team logo shirts to draw attention, and try to bump into players in all kinds of funny places.
Wait, I am excited. It's a good sign that St. John's is making some strides in bringing kids on to the Jamaica campus to see the new facilities, interact with the coaches, and take in the atmosphere, such as it is in the summer.
It's even better that Norm Roberts has been hitting the road, looking at talent, letting the top guys know he is watching them. more on the Elite Camp and events that St. John's is hosting to get impact kids onto the campus, below the fold.
The St. John's Elite Camp at the beginning of July brought together a great deal of local talent - forwards (2010) JayVaughn Pinkston, Melsahn Besabe, JJ Moore, Allen West, Ryan Rhoomes, Kadeem Jack, Devon Collier, Ashton Pankey, (2011) Sidiki Johnson, Derrick Randall, Nkeruwem Okoro, Joey De La Rosa, Kamari Murphy, (2012) Tafari Whittingham...
and guards (2010) Shane Southwell, Antoine Mason, Harold McBride, Kyrie Irving, (2011) Jermaine Sanders, Mike Taylor, Corey Edwards, Myles Mack, Jordan Allen, (2012) Tariq Carey, Tyler Harris, Daniel Dingle, Omar Calhoun, Kyle Anderson, and LeBrent Walker. Players are thinking of St. John's as a viable option; player analyses are here, here ($ required), and here. The camp featured 3 on 3 drills, 4 on 4 drills and scrimmages
Norm Roberts has been seen at most of the big summer AAU events, finding himself in Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Cleveland and Orlando, as written by Adam Zagoria, tracking JayVaughn Pinkston among others. Pinkston - once "leaning" towards St. John's when his AAU coach Kimani Young was an assistant at St. John's - is blowing up large, as seen on SNY and on Five Boro Sports, and will be hard to get... he will supposedly commit in the spring.
Today, St. John's is hosting one of the last events of the live recruiting period, the Summer in the City event hosted by New Heights; Peter Robert Casey has an interview with Kimani Young that touches on the event. There will be other coaches in there - Tennesee's Bruce Pearl, Villanova's Jay Wright, Maryland's Gary Williams. But there is some benefit to being the host of the event, for sure.
It's been a grind for a month, with Roberts and his coaches trying to get the top seniors to see campus on an unofficial, to interact with the current players, to get a sense of the program and what they want to do. I commend that.
All that excitement will, hopefully, lead to actual commitments; St. John's has one scholarship for 2010 that they hope to use on Pinkston or perhaps Kadeem Jack or Ryan Rhoomes, if they don't reclassify, or JJ Moore; Kyrie Irving, Tobias Harris, and Doron Lamb sound like longshots, but the Storm would love to have them in the fold.And they have to keep trying to bring in the best players available.
What's important is making inroads into the 2011 and 2012 classes - talents like Sidiki Johnson, Myles Mack, Kamari Murphy, Joey De La Rosa, and Nkeruwem Okoro. The school is probably looking for a few young commits. Some early wins this year will help a few more on the fence players see how they can continue/ build a winning tradition at St. John's... and also ensure that they coaches who recruited them will be there in 2 years. Playing time will be available, especially for the big men.
But the aggressive ways of getting players on to campus for Elite Camps and hosting the AAU teams with the prospects the school wants is what the Big East competition has been doing for years. great to see St. John's getting into the recruiting game hardcore; the time for nice guys and crossing fingers on a top recruit, only to get a mediocre player who transfers... that needs to be over.