It has been rumored that Steve Lavin and the St. John's Red Storm staff are searching the junior college circuit for depth to add to the 2012-13 roster. With Moe Harkless' announcement that he will enter the NBA Draft, the Johnnies are left with an extra scholarship to offer to next season's incoming class.
Monroe Community College's Orlando Sanchez and Marco Bourgault are capable of filling the void. And freshman Maurice Ndour, eligible for 2013, is of interest as well.
Their Monroe Mustangs, from New Rochelle, fell to the undefeated and top-ranked South Plains Texans on Wednesday night, 73-60, in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) quarterfinals. But there was plenty to extract from the game.
Though their team fell short, Sanchez (6'9'') and Bourgault (6'6'') showed why they are worthy of playing on the Big East level come the fall.
More, below the fold.
When you watch prospective recruits play for the first time, the first impression seems to be everything. He doesn't move well without the ball. He can't shoot from the perimeter. He makes bad decisions.
That's why you give these players time and patience. In Wednesday's NJCAA quarterfinal, Sanchez and Bourgault required a bit of patience. They weren't astonishing on the stat sheet, but it was their clear-cut potential and the visions of how they can fit into Lavin's system that got the pen moving.
Sanchez, who has been on St. John's radar for considerable time, is long and agile. The rigors of the Big East may require some additional toughness in the interior, both on the boards and stopping lane invaders. But the Monroe forward could undoubtedly cause some serious match-up issues for opponents - even at the next level.
His ability (and willingness) to run the floor is what caught the eye. For a man of such imposing stature, Sanchez is deceptively quick in the open floor and off the dribble going towards the basket. Both his body type and quickness serves as a reminder and valid comparison to Moe Harkless. Sanchez and God`sgift Achiuwa could make a nice complement of agile forwards in the depth chart.
"I think that coaches like his versatility," Monroe head coach Jeff Brustad said of Sanchez to Rivals' Eric Bossi. "He's got a high level ability to defend. He blocks shots, he rebounds, and he's an athlete who can run the floor."
Sanchez (photo courtesy of Rivals) does have the ability to step back for jump shots, mostly from 10-14 foot mid-range spots on the floor. He will occasionally settle for attempts from behind the arc, but it isn't an overwhelming strength of his offensive game.
"The people around him will want him to stay near the East Coast," Brustad continued. "I don't think they are worried about playing time because that stuff will work itself out."
Marco Bourgault also showed promising elements on Wednesday. Recruiting profiles of the guard from France usually mark Bourgault down as a spot-up shooter, but he can do more. He moves rather well without the ball, which he showed on a few impressive interior cuts. He is also a legitimate option as a secondary ball handler, which could take some pressure off Phil Greene and Jamal Branch.
His go-to move is the pull-up jump shot, usually from the mid-range area. What can make him so difficult to guard is his multidimensional repertoire, which includes perimeter and mid-range capabilities and strong pushes towards the basket. When Monroe was on a 10-0 run on Wednesday night and extended its lead over South Plains to 8 points, it was Bourgault that led the charge.
Much like any typical shooter, Bourgault is clearly streaky. There are times when he seems to never miss, and others when he struggles to convert. Either way, his soft shot could be a nice addition to a relatively poor perimeter shooting Red Storm team now led by D`Angelo Harrison.
It was actually perplexing as to why Bourgault and Sanchez were not getting more offensive looks. Sanchez has been profiled as a player willing to create opportunities for his teammates, but Bourgault seems to look for his shot whenever possible. Monroe's shot-thirsty guards may have made an impact.
It is also worth noting that Monroe freshmen forward Maurice Ndour also showed promising signs against South Plains. Ndour, who has already received offers from St. John's, Providence, and Cincinnati, provides an imposing presence in the paint. His shot-blocking prowess can be compared to that of former Rutgers forward Hamady N'Diaye.
Even though Monroe lost in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, they are expected to play in a consolation game on Thursday afternoon. It is believed that, once the season is officially over, Orlando Sanchez and Marco Bourgault will soon make their commitment announcements. All indications are that St. John's are heavy players for both.
Stay tuned to Rumble in the Garden for upcoming news on Sanchez, Bourgault, and Ndour - along with all other recruiting prospects and news.