During the 2010-2011 season, St. John’s fans saw more highlights than they had in years. Supporters were all around, but in a few short months everything has turned a bit dark, especially in recruiting.
After undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, head coach Steve Lavin has been unable to stand on the sidelines for his young St. John’s team (8-7, 2-2 Big East) including Saturday’s win over Cincinnati.
There have been more lows this season than highs... and last week, 2012 recruit Darrick Wood de-committed from the program. But it's not time to panic. There are prospects on the horizon, and the program is at a better place than it was years ago.
If you follow Wood on Twitter, his passion for St. John's seemed at an all-time high, with him constantly tweeting the St. John's basketball hash tag and asking his followers where he could watch the game when the team played.
When Wood spoke with The Rumble in November, he said he was fully committed to the Red Storm and couldn't wait to be a part of a re-rising program.
Wood caused some concern when he didn't signed his National Letter of Intent in October. "The NCAA wanted records from my old prep school because of what was going on there at the time," said Wood when asked about it. "They want to check my grades but everything will be fine. My parents should be getting the letter to sign hopefully [soon]."
In the article by Five-Star Basketball where Wood spoke exclusively on his decision to de-commit he spoke about how he wanted to make the best decision for his career, and how in recent times he didn't feel "locked in" as he put it, with the program.
Once again this drew supporters to believe Lavin's heath was the issue of concern.
But as the day progressed, tweets filled through from various College Basketball experts noted that Wood might not be qualifying for the 2012-2013 College season because of his grades. No two ways about it, you have to play just has hard in the classroom as you do on the court, with the way the NCAA is cracking down on eligibility.
But right now, St. John's stands without a recruit in 2012.
Is it panic time?
it shouldn't be.
Though unable to be on the sidelines - possibly for the season - Lavin isn't sitting around doing nothing. He has once again hit the recruiting trails following such prospects as forward Ricardo Gathers and forward Jakarr Sampson, both of whom de-committed from the program, and continues to look at other recruits such as guard Jamal Branch, who is transferring from Texas A&M.
Besides Gathers and Sampson, Lavin has offered forward Chris Obekpa, a 6-8 forward from Our Savior New American for 2012. Recently, Lavin also offered guard Carlos Galan, a 2013 guard from Gompers High School in the Bronx.
St. John’s is already stacked with talent that can win now even with a thin rotation which was proven on Saturday, beating a very good Cincinnati team on the road. A 6-man rotation in the Big East is unheard of but the Red Storm work with it.
If Lavin is able to go and grab a couple of Junior College or freshmen players to add depth needed on the bench, St. John's won't need that much star power to commit.
St. John’s has shown interest in Orlando Sanchez, a JUCO forward who is currently at Monroe College.
The season still has ways to go and every low can be changed to a high with the flick of the switch - a win, a bit of good news. So supporters and part time fans don't be discouraged or disgruntled. Just remember where this program was just two or three years ago.