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St. John's selected for 2015 Maui Invitational, along with college basketball elites Kansas, Indiana, UCLA and more

St. John's will enjoy their first trip to the storied early-season tournament in Hawai'i.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

If you've been waiting for St. John's to join (or rejoin) the ranks of the big time, the invite to the Maui Invitational in two years is a huge step in the name of national elite recognition.

The EA Sports Maui Invitational - the famed Thanksgiving tournament that gives us the threat of the host Division II Chaminade Silver Swords, who have knocked off blue bloods like Texas (last year) - announced the field for two Thanksgivings from now, Nov. 23, 24 and 25, 2015.

It's a strong field with four of the winningest programs in college basketball - Kansas, St. John's, UCLA and Indiana - and strong up-and-comers in UNLV (Nevada- Las Vegas) and Vanderbilt.

In terms of name recognition, only names like Duke, North Carolina and Michigan State are lacking.

"The 2015 Tournament promises to be very special. Kansas, St. John’s, UCLA and Indiana are four of the most storied programs in the history of college basketball. UNLV, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest are among the most successful programs in the past two decades," said tournament chairman Dave Odom.

St. John's has never played in the Maui Invitational; among the invitees, only Wake Forest joins the Red Storm as first-timers. Steve Lavin took UCLA to Maui for the 2001 tournament, finishing with a 2-1 record. It's a special tournament, and a great chance for St. John's to make its mark against some of the most storied programs in Division I, all while the coaches wear casual Hawai'ian shirts.

More poetic waxing about the Maui Invitational: ESPN's Eamonn Brennan | Matt Norlander for Sports on Earth

The Red Storm should have Christian Jones, Felix Balamou, Max Hooper and David Lipscomb on the team; it is possible that current rotation players Chris Obekpa, JaKarr Sampson and freshman Rysheed Jordan would be on the team as well, if they do not pursue professional opportunities.

But with the class of D`Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene IV, Sir`Dominic Pointer and Jamal Branch all leaving, the Red Storm will look markedly different than today's Johnnies... possibly including a new class of high-level recruits, judging by the staff's focus on the 2015 recruiting class.

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