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St. John's basketball: early summer notes

New freshman recruits Malik Stith and Omari "O-Money" Lawrence have a little bit of press, below...

Pat Stevens posts on NBE Basketball on the games of Lawrence and Stith, and check that link for notes on some of the other ballers coming to the Big East from the northeastern prep schools, including Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati), Vincent Council (Providence), James Southerland (Syracuse), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and more:

-St. John’s Omari Lawrence of South Kent, CT

"A bull in a china closet. He’s a bit unorthodox but very effective at what he does. His ability to shoot the three will have a lot to do with his success at the next level. You can’t just take it on the trees everytime. But he’s the type of kid that would take it in on Alonzo Mourning and he’d probably end up scoring too." – Bridgton coach Whit Lesure

"He has the body to compete in the Big East, the toughness and the willingness to defend. He’ll have to be able to knock down shots more often to improve his game." – St. Thomas More coach Jere Quinn

"We played South Kent three times and I’ve known him since he was very young playing down at camps in New Jersey and from when he was at St Raymond’s. He’s a talented kid with the ball, can score going to the hole, and I think he’ll have a nice career at St John’s. It was a good choice for him to stay home." – Winchendon coach Mike Byrnes

"He’s really strong. We hammered them at our place right after Christmas. Both teams were out of sync and we were asking ourselves how are we winning by 30? Then they came back in the rematch and he played really well at the New Hampton tournament. He can really finish through contact." – Brewster coach Jason Smith

St. John’s Malik Stith of Bridgton Academy, ME

"By the end of the NEPSAC, he was the MVP. We played them early at their place and as all teams are at that time, they were trying to figure out themselves. But we knew that as he went, they would go. He was phenomenal in the NEPSAC playoffs. They were a team who went possession by possession and with him as the quarterback he got guys shots at the right times on the shot clock and in the right spots. One kid totally dictated the tempo of the game when they played Patterson in the National Championship Tournament and that’s the reason Bridgton won because of his ability to control the game. How will it carry over to the Big East where everybody is quicker, taller, faster, and stronger. I’m curious to see how it carries over but he was the MVP of the playoffs. – Winchendon coach Mike Byrnes

"The definition of a waterbug. Constant, perpetual motion and the ability to keep him out of the paint is really difficult." – Brewster coach Jason Smith

Taken at value, these are interesting quotes. Omari has always impressed with his strength and "and-1" ability, his skills in snaking into the lane for a shot. His highlight reel displays these abilities as well. There is talk that the weight he gained last summer (while injured) has not come off, but with a solid strength program he should be good. St. John's players have become stronger; the coaching staff values aggression and strength moves over finesse.

Malik Stith has gotten pub as a winner, a fearless point guard. If he can handle the rock against Big East teams, defend decently, and help (with Malik Boothe) establish a culture where the point guard controls the action, not an over-dribbling wing, St. John's might look a little more crisp, and turn the ball over less.