It's official. Isaiah Whitehead, the 6'4" scoring wing out of Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, will be crossing the Hudson to play basketball at Seton Hall. The coveted, explosive guard chose Kevin Willard's Seton Hall Pirates over a late push from St. John's, Pittsburgh, and existing interest from Indiana and Minnesota.
Whitehead announced his commitment on Thursday afternoon, with a live-broadcast press conference from Lincoln High on MSG Varsity's website.
Whitehead joins Bishop Loughlin (Brooklyn) star guard Khadeen Carrington, Newark wing Ismael Sanogo, and rebounding machine Angel Delgado in Kevin Willard's 2014 recruiting class, who is silencing his recruiting critics with player-coach connection moves.
Rumor has it that Lincoln High coach Tiny Morton, who has long coveted a college assistant spot, will come with Whitehead to Seton Hall. A few weeks ago, Seton Hall assistant Oliver Antigua was hired - he has a connection to commit Angel Delgado through his twin brother Orlando Antigua, who coaches the Dominican Republic's national basketball team.
Having a local recruiting battle between two New York Big East schools can only up the spotlight on New York, and the Big East. But this was a tough recruiting battle to lose.
St. John's had been the first school to offer Whitehead a scholarship nearly three years ago when the Lincoln star was a freshman. But interest had waned in the spring and summer, as Whitehead seemed destined to take his talents out of New York City like many other stars.
This week, Steve Lavin and his recruiting team had made a surprise resurgence to land Whitehead. Within hours, St. John's fans' developing complaints about how Lavin's 2014 class was beginning to disappoint turned into news that the once-top target planned to reconsider and visit the school.
But the excitement was for naught.
The Lincoln guard's commitment to Seton Hall leaves St. John's with no 2014 recruits. The team has strong interest in center Christ the King center Adonis de la Rosa of Queens, a space-eating big man. And the team may pocket a scholarship or two for high-level prospects in 2015, when stars like D`Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, Jamal Branch, and Sir`Dominic Pointer will have exhausted their eligibility.
For Seton Hall, Whitehead gives the team a creative playmaker and scorer alongside creative playmaker Jaren Sina and scorer Sterling Gibbs. He should help life the Pirates from the Big East basement, provided Willard can find some size to play with the team's plethora of wings.
And once again, St. John's and Seton Hall will have more to be rivals about than just geographic proximity.
(Additional reporting by Quinn Rochford)