With the 2013 class finished (barring some late transfer or other surprise) with Rysheed Jordan, Steve Lavin and his staff have turned their eyes to 2014 and 2015, the years where much of the current St. John's team will graduate.
Who is Lavin looking at to retool the Red Storm?
St. John's watched 2014 Lincoln High shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead - who is working on becoming a combo guard - but Rivals/ Alex Kline lists ($) Whitehead's top three as Louisville, Syracuse, and Kentucky. Jeff Borzello has Louisville and Syracuse the schools coming at him the hardest. Whitehead dropped 38 points on Friday.
Tagged as the player who showed the "Most Progress," here is what ESPN ($) had to say about his performance:
This weekend, all signs pointed to a guard who’s finally starting to understand the responsibility of being the most talented player on the floor...
The blurb points to good energy and increased maturity in letting the game come to him and taking high-percentage, aggressive, versatile shots.
In Los Angeles, Prime Prep HS star and top-ten target Emmanuel Mudiay (2014 | Arlington, TX) struggled with his shooting percentages but provided assists - averaging over 6 dimes per game. His team went 3-1 in four games in the forty-team Los Angeles AAU festival.
Mudiay also averaged over 5 turnovers per game, shot 0/10 from beyond the arc, and 33% overall (51% from inside the arc). He takes up possessions like a high school star - involved in just under 35% of the team's possessions, including the prodigious turnover amount - and assisted on 35% of his team's scores, which is high-level. Mudiay, a big 6'4" guard, also grabbed 7.5 rebounds per contest while logging most of the available minutes for his team.
(That's the kind of up-and-down but winning performance that earns nods and the term "warrior" for gritty but flawed play.)
Expressions Elite targets
For Expressions Elite, Abdul Malik-Abu (2014 | Boston, MA) showed off his energy for the Expressions Elite AAU summer league team. Per ESPN:
Abu was in beast mode throughout this weekend. The Soldiers had no answer for his energy, strength or defensive prowess in their contest. He pounds the glass with a vengeance and he's quick off the floor. He threw down numerous power jams on the offensive end and caused Ivan Rabb major issues on the defensive end.
Malik-Abu, 6'8", shot a solid 53% inside the arc (15.5 points/ game) and a nice 79% from the free throw line, while taking over 30% of his team's offensive possessions like a star. He only averaged 4.5 rebounds per game, and was more productive on the offensive end.
On the offensive glass, he snagged 13% of his teammates' misses; on defense, he grabbed 8% of opponent misses, not a great number. He also averaged 2 blocks per game and took five three-pointers, making a solitary one.
His Kimball Union Academy teammate Jared Terrell (2014 | Weymouth, MA) also took shots like a star (23% of possessions) but cracked double figures only in his first EYBL game in LA. Terrell, listed at 6'3" and 220 pounds, shot 50% on two-pointers but only 17% outside the arc on six attempts.
New York Lightning targets
I don't know who this Angel Delgado (2014 | Troy, NY) is, but St. John's is supposedly taking a look at him - and Darrick Martin, who was reported to be out in Los Angeles, may have liked the gaudy numbers Delgado put up.
The 6'9" forward from the Dominican Republic shot 54% inside the arc (good) and put up an impressive performance on the glass - 13 rebounds per game, equally distributed between the offensive (6/ game - 23% of available offensive boards) and defensive (7/ game, 30% of available defensive rebounds).
That's monstrous against any competition. He plays his high school ball at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy.
Teammate Jessie Govan (2015 | Manhasset, NY), who came to last year's Red Storm Tip-Off, had a quieter weekend. The 6'9", 255 forward Govan scored efficiently (hitting 53% of his shots) but only averaged 14 minutes per game, despite starting. Injury, perhaps? He logged 25 minutes in the team's second game, a win over Team United out of North Carolina, and wasn't terrible on the defensive boards overall, grabbing 15% of available rebounds.
Bishop Loughlin's Khadeen Carrington (2014 | Brooklyn) worked to carry his Lightning, and helped them to a 2-2 record on the weekend. The 6'3" guard logged over 27 minutes of action per game and averaged 13 points per game, 4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 steals per game - not an outlier performance, but solid play, drawing fouls (29% free throw rate) and hitting the occasional three.
Carrington showed versatility - dropping 21 points against All Ohio Red in a two-point win, and dishing out four assists to offset a 5/13 performance in a loss to CIA Bounce.
2015 forward Cheick Diallo (2015 | Mali/ Centereach) averaged a solid 10 points and 8 rebounds in a 3-1 week for Team Scan next to Chris McCullough, who was a coveted target before committing to a school farther north and more orange.
Diallo, known to be a very good athlete with quick shot-blocking hops, only had 4 shots blocked in 4 games, but made noise on the glass, grabbing 16% of available offensive rebounds and 15% of defensive boards while on the floor. He also played 26 minutes per game - a figure held down by foul trouble in the weekend's finale against Athletes First - showing that he's a big man who has the endurance to play big minutes.
Bonus: he shot 73% from the free throw line on 11 attempts.
Jared Nickens is getting looks from St. John's, according to ($) Scout.com's Brian Snow. He is a 6'6" shooting guard from Westtown, PA, and reclassified from 2013 to 2014 to improve his game. Oregon State has visited the wing, who profiles as a spot-up shooter trying to diversify his skill set.