Die-hard New York basketball fans have spent the summer searching for news about Carmelo Anthony's destination, or where other major NBA stars are going. However, NBA free agency isn’t the only big spectacle. These months are also critical recruiting periods for college basketball programs, an opportunity for college coaches to recruit and evaluate high school prospects.
For Red Storms fans, the summer of 2014 recruiting effort bears bigger significance for the Johnnies than it does for Knick fans.
Many key players will be graduating from the Red Storm after this upcoming season. Guards D`Angelo Harrison, Sir`Dominic Pointer, Jamal Branch and Phil Greene IV will all be graduating this season and replacing them will be no easy task.
This summer Coach Lavin is tasked with finding the players who will fill their shoes, attending various eventsshowcasing some of the best talent in the country with his staff. These events will give the staff an opportunity to find players who can help the program and also keep an eye on players they have already targeted.
Two significant names discussed with St. John's are guard Isaiah Briscoe and forward Cheick Diallo. Both of these prospects are attending the Lebron James Skills Academy in Vegas.
Isaiah Briscoe (G, 6'3", 2015)
Briscoe, who hails from New Jersey's Roselle Catholic High School and plays AAU ball for the NJ Playaz, is the 13th-best prospect in the nation according to Rivals.com. This past season he averaged 22.1 points per game, 4.0 assist/ g, 3.9 rebounds/ g, 1.8 steals/ g. and led his school to a 21-10 record. Briscoe also was a key contributor at point guard on the the USA U18 team that took gold at FIBAs.
Briscoe is known for his court vision and his ability to attack the basket. Briscoe still needs to improve his defense and perimeter shooting. However, Briscoe has an impressive 6'9 wingspan which should help him on defense.
If Briscoe decides to sign with St. John's, he has the potential to be an immediate contributor, and possibly a starter from year one. St. John’s main scorer, D`Angelo Harrison, is graduating this year and Briscoe has the ability to take over his role. He would fit nicely next to Rysheed Jordan who will be a junior when Briscoe starts college - if Jordan does not go pro.
However, getting a commitment from Briscoe will not be easy.
According to the NY Post, Briscoe has narrowed his list to seven schools and plans to cut that list to three schools by the end of the summer. Among those schools, Briscoe is said to be considering St. John's, Rutgers, Louisville, UConn and Villanova.
Though St. John's can offer proximity to home and immediate playing time, it will be hard for the Red Storm to sign Briscoe. Many of the programs on his list have experienced more recent success than St. John's. In addition, Coach Lavin has not lured a big-time prospect from New Jersey - though Briscoe, seems to enjoy the idea of playing locally.
Isaiah Briscoe's father George Briscoe told the New York Post: "You got Lavin, you got New York waiting for a winner, you got Isaiah Briscoe who’s big in New York but lives in New Jersey, and you got the whole backcourt leaving. You’re playing at the Garden. That’s appealing. I don’t care what anybody says. That’s very appealing to be right there in New York."
Cheick Diallo (F/C, 6'9", 2015)
The other major prospect St. John's is targeting is 6’9 forward Cheick Diallo.
Diallo, who hails from Mali and now New York's Our Savior New American School, plays for Team Scan in AAU ball. He is the 5th ranked prospect in the nation according to Rivals.
Diallo has the tools to be a great defender at the college level. His 7’3 wingspan makes it easy for him to block shots, grab rebounds and dunk. Diallo will need to work on his offensive skill set in college, but has the potential to be a great player.
Cheick Diallo will get major minutes, but with Adonis Delarosa, Keith Thomas and Christian Jones, along with possibly Chris Obekpa (if he does not go pro after this year), he can be eased in at St. John's.
Diallo is being heavily recruited by many top flight programs. Kentucky, Iowa State and Kansas are on his list, along with St. John's. Kentucky' and Kansas' track record of getting big men to the NBA (DeMarcus Cousins, Joel Embiid, Cole Aldrich, Patrick Patterson, Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel) will be hard to compete against. The role of Chris Obekpa, however, shows how Diallo can excel on the Red Storm from the first day.
Both Diallo and Briscoe appear to be impact players. However, getting a commitment from either of these prospects will be difficult for Coach Lavin and the staff at St. John's.
St. John's is also pursuing Brandon Sampson from Baton Rouge, but he will not play during the July period because of injury.
Other names linked to St. John's include Malik Beasley, a 6'5" scoring guard from Alpharetta, GA [link]; Donovan Mitchell, a 6'3" guard from Brewster Academy, who plans to visit St. John's; and Dupree McBrayer, a 6'4" point guard originally from Springfield Gardens [link];
The Rumble will be on the lookout for new names and will post about them as those names are linked with the St. John's 2015 recruiting effort.