Earlier this offseason, 2012 point guard recruit Jevon Thomas had expressed his dissatisfaction with all of the point guards St. John's was recruiting. Thomas committed to St. John's last October after the Red Storm Tip-Off season-opening festivities. Since that point, he has watched as a parade of combo and point guards have committed to the program or expressed strong interest.
First it was the Momo Jones dalliance (and thankfully he wouldn't be allowed to enroll at St. John's, due to his relationship with assistant Moe Hicks); he moved on and chose... some school that will be frustrated with his high regard for his abilities (ok, he's going to Iona). There was the chase of NC State's struggling point guard (but a well-regarded HS recruit) Ryan Harrow, who chose Kentucky despite New York ties. And recently, more guards have popped up with St. John's offers.
If it were me, or if Jevon Thomas was family, I'd think he was being recruited over. I'd take a good long look around as well, what with the Johnnies already in possession of combo guards Nurideen Lindsey and D'Angelo Harrison, who could also handle on-ball duties.
Thomas' dissatisfaction blossomed into a decommitment this past Saturday. With Steve Lavin, Tony Chiles, and the staff chasing after Kyle Anderson, and Kyle Anderson strongly considering the Red Storm, Jevon Thomas has decided that his decision was too hasty.
Our man from Rosedale is well within his rights, of course, and in a way, it may be a good decision for him, while the Red Storm staff is stepping into some possibly risky territory. A look at what Thomas' decommitment means, below the fold.
The decommitment news
Jevon Thomas' change of heart was reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com, The Recruit Scoop, and the NY Post last night. Thomas, quoted in the Post:
"I think I kind of rushed into it early on, knowing it was my dream school," the rising senior at Our Savior New American (L.I.) told The Post. "Any kid, if his dream school that is 15 minutes up the block from him offers a scholarship, they're gonna take it. No matter what happens, they're always gonna like that school and be biased towards it."
He added, "I sat on it and thought about it for the last six, eight months. In the end, I need to look things over. I see it as an opportunity to get better. I just have to go out there and keep playing hard."
From Johnny Jungle:
"We sat and spoke on the early decision and agreed there's more out there to explore," Thomas' advisor Shawn "Wiz" Simms of Team B.A.S.I.C. told JohnnyJungle.com. "St. John's is still on the top of his list, but he still feels he needs to take some visits and see what the world has to offer."
More from Simms from Gotham Hoops:
Simms says St. John's is still on top of the silky-smooth guard's list, but "he still feels he needs to take some visits and see what the world has to offer."
Attending college in his home-borough of Queens is the goal, but only if it's "the right decision for him and his family."
Why it's good for Jevon Thomas
Thomas has had an interesting summer, playing with a number of AAU teams, including the MetroHawks (where he played in the Nike EYBL league - a look at Jevon Thomas' sessions/ stats from earlier this summer) and the Gauchos, for whom he's playing in this final July recruiting period. Thomas says that he's fine playing with Kyle Anderson, and that he's not afraid of competition.
This is probably true, and it's good that he's not scared of playing with other good players. But at a certain point, a player should know where they fit, and that they aren't being taken for granted. It's not just about a selfish need for love and attention; it's about self-preservation, knowing that a coach has a place for the player, and knowing that the player will get some shine on the court.
Competition is great; being the 12th or 13th man on the bench, where the rest of the team is only one year ahead of Jevon Thomas does not feel like an ideal home for a dynamic player. And the staff still welcomes him, it seems; this is for Thomas to figure out.
And in truth, if Jevon wants to stay local, or wants to be the man, there are other options - including Seton Hall, Fordham, Iona, and more. And if he wants major conference teams, there are nearby schools; he needs to do what's right for his needs.
What it means for Lavin's 2012 recruiting
For St. John's, the pursuit of more impact players - specifically, impact ballhandlers - may indicate a discomfort with Jevon Thomas. The staff is building for a big 2012-2014, with a versatile array of playmakers and hopefully a play facilitator in Kyle Anderson, who continually proves himself to be a high-impact player.
Is losing the bird in the hand worth two in the bush?
Considering that whoever handles the point guard slot this year should be on campus next year, and considering Steve Lavin's seeming love for tall point guards, maybe it is. The team isn't in desperate need of another point guard, especially one who may not have been eligible in 2012 anyway - word is that his academics are still a question mark and he may need a prep year.
Moreover, it is this blog's opinion that the real hole on the Red Storm is size/ post play - or at least, post defense. Slashing guards and wings will make for a nice matchup zone defense and some dynamic, high-paced offense. But some teams will be able to slow the pace down, attacking the post players... of whom only God'sGift Achiuwa has good size to stave off the bigger low-block Big East players. Norvel Pelle needs weight, as does JaKarr Sampson.
A player who isn't necessarily counted on to be the starting center immediately - one who can contribute minutes and emerge when the current players start leaving early - would be ideal.
The Johnnies need big men. Rivals hoops mentions ($ req'd) interest in players like Florida's Joel James and Thomas' teammate at Our Savior New American, Christopher Obekpa. Kamari Murphy is doing a prep year at IMG Academy, and he may be a possibility as well.
Chris Obekpa has good size and athleticism. Enjoy the video below; we will touch on new St. John's recruiting targets, including Katin Reinhardt, later this week.