Lavin watches Ricardo Gathers, Jaren Sina at City of Palms

Ricardo Gathers at City of Palms Classic. Via Jason Easterly, Naples News

The building of the St. John's Red Storm program continues on the court... but also with the year-round recruiting effort.

On Saturday, the St. John's players fended off a late charge from those plucky Fordham Rams in a 56-50 win in the revamped/ scaled-down Holiday Festival. Meanwhile, recuperating head coach Steve Lavin spent part of the weekend down at the City of Palms Classic in southwest Florida, keeping an eye on recruiting targets Ricardo Gathers (power forward, 2012) and Jaren Sina (point guard, 2013).

Despite his need to rebuild his energy levels after his surgery, Lavin tells SNY that "sitting in the stands at a high school practice or game to evaluate a prospect does not tax my energy levels."

Having Lavin on the road is great for the Red Storm, who will need a banner 2012 recruiting class to develop a winning team in the next few years.

St. John's will soon become a seven-member squad when Amir Garrett is declared eligible by the NCAA to suit up in the coming weeks. But for now, a decimated team of six needs on-court reinforcements, along with their head man back on the sidelines. Big men are a priority, but every position with the possible exception of the wing is in need of depth and talent.

A quick look at how Gathers and Sina did, plus video, after the jump.

"Versatile," is the word the came to mind when Gathers was asked to describe his game. "I like to be around the rim, be strong on the boards and make plays." - Naples News

Ricardo Gathers, aka the Bayou Bull, was once the marquee 2012 commit for the Red Storm, the second wave of talent for Lavin's Ark. He's a fast, agile, and burly 6'7" post player from the New Orleans area, ranked in the top 50 of the major recruiting services, coveted by the likes of Texas, Florida, and Louisiana State.

But when the fall signing week came, Gathers sprung a surprise. Rico Gathers decommitted from St. John's, declaring that he would not sign until spring and that he wanted to look around at his other school choices. He (and his brother) indicated that the tumult surrounding the Big East, Steve Lavin's health, and the ineligible players all played a factor in his decision.

"I want to reassure myself of where I want to be. I just want to make sure I look at all my options," Gathers told the Naples News.

Reportedly, St. John's is still a top college choice for Gathers.

As far as his game, Rico Gathers continues to be the powerful post player we profiled after the Nike EYBL series... but he's added a little more shooting touch in his high school season to round out his game. Gathers' team is in the semifinals of the tournament, and will play again on Tuesday at 9:30 PM.

Some notes from Gathers' two games against Jaren Sina's Gil St. Bernard team (a double-overtime 80-73 win for Riverside) and top-50 big man Tony Parker's Miller Grove squad (a 59-55 win for Riverside Academy):

  • Ricardo Gathers continues to handle his business on the glass, pulling down an average of 13 total rebounds - 28.9% of Riverside Academy's available defensive rebounds, and 13% of the available offensive boards.
  • Gathers continues to be the main offensive force, taking over 40% of his team's shots.
  • But Rico's also developed touch, shooting 2 of 5 from outside the arc, and 7 of 10 from the free throw line.
  • Note that the touch may have taken away from his ability to draw fouls; he's only drawn 10 free throw attempts despite taking 42 shots (a 24% Free Throw Rate).

As always, there's a lot to like about Gathers' game in the paint. By the numbers, he's developing his versatility.

Jaren Sina is a former Alabama commit from New Jersey. He's got decent quickness and is known as a fundamentally sound facilitating lead guard. He struggled with his shot in his two games - one loss against Gathers' Riverside Academy and a win against host Bishop Verot.

Sina is definitely a passer, averaging 9 assists per game (nearly 28% of the team's made baskets), and isn't shy about taking shots. He's flanked by a pair of low-Division I 2012 commits in Alex Mitola (Dartmouth) and Dominic Hoffman (Bucknell).

Some enterprising fan videotaped the entire double-overtime game between Jaren Sina's Gil St. Bernard's squad and Ricardo Gathers' Riverside Academy team. Judging by the hollers and conversation, it's shot by someone friendly with the Gil St. Bernard program.

Get to know Jaren Sina and Ricardo Gathers; Rico Gathers is #21 in white, and Jaren Sina is #23 in black and purple:

Parts 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Players like Gathers and Sina - and other ballers that Lavin can convince to join the talent base at St. John's - are vital to the future of the program. It's been a bad recruiting season for Lavin and the Johnnies, but college basketball is simple - a few talented players can turn almost any program around.

More St. John's basketball recruiting on RITG

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