The college basketball spring signing period began Wednesday, as highly touted recruits Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) made their announcements. For the St. John's Red Storm, the front was quiet.
Head coach Steve Lavin has been balancing recovery from prostate cancer treatments and time on the recruiting trail ever since he last coached a game in mid-November. Every minute he spent in high school and AAU gyms across America during the season gave him and his program an edge.
As the regular signing period commences, Johnnies fans continue to wait patiently to see just what exactly Lavin has up his sleeve. Recruiting is an art, and the Red Storm are lucky to have one of the best artists out there.
An incoming class that now holds verbal commitments from JaKarr Sampson and Felix Balamou sits as the lone supplement to an existing six-man rotation which includes December-available transfer guard Jamal Branch.
If Lavin and his team wants any shot at competing for a postseason bid out of the Big East in 2012-13, they need to add more depth. That can't be reiterated enough. As D`Angelo Harrison & co. move toward their second season, are the Johnnies a shot-blocker and reliable shooter away from relevance? Or will it take more?
Highly sought-after 6-foot-8 forward Chris Obekpa visited St. John's back in March alongside Sampson, who could now serve as Lavin's best recruiting tool. The Our Savior New American big man has also taken official visits to DePaul and Cincinnati, and will visit Oregon this month (per Adam Zagoria).
Monroe Community College's Orlando Sanchez (profile) and Marco Bourgault (profile) will each visit St. John's on April 20th. Interior presences Michael Chandler and Phillip Nolan are also on Lavin's radar, but could each be facing questions of eligibility.
Brooklyn's Thaddeus Hall (profile) is still holding off on any commitment announcements, but it is expected that Hall's landing in Queens is a distinct possibility. Harvard transfer Max Hooper (profile) has also been mentioned.
Don't count out the Red Storm searching the waiver wire, which does include a number of players who can be immediately eligible.
Steve Lavin has been working diligently on the trail, even internationally. The coming days and weeks will be telling. The regular signing period lasts until May 16th. But make no mistake, if there are slots open, Lavin will continue to span the globe for talent.