Rysheed Jordan, the team's lone returning scholarship guard, returning leading scorer, and the team's unpolished but potentially dynamic talent, may not return next season.
Jordan has, according to reports from the NY Post and NY Daily News, neglected his academics so badly this semester that summer school will, apparently, only help him come back for the second semester of 2015-2016 - not salvage his first semester, where St. John's is slated to play Syracuse on December 13 and in the challenging Maui Classic in November.
If you are prone to believing that St. John's men's basketball solely attracts bad news, you'll note that the recent bad news about Rysheed Jordan's eligibility started as a nugget in the New York Post's piece about Marcus LoVett's commitment and signing of his National Letter of Intent, a one-liner that has become a fissure that could sink the Red Storm's season in Chris Mullin's first year as head coach.
The NY Daily News' Roger Rubin adds this ominous pair of paragraphs to the Rysheed Jordan story:
A source close to the St. John’s program said a departure is not a done deal. Jordan has been told what he must do in school during the summer session and fall semester in order to be able to play from mid-December through March. He is expected to meet with new coach Chris Mullin in the coming week, and a decision could be made then on whether he will continue at St. John’s.
However, a source close to Jordan said that he already has told those close to him in Philadelphia that his time with the Johnnies is through.
In addition, from the New York Post:
...sources said he has neglected the student aspect of being a student athlete since returning from a leave of absence from the team in early January, and is in serious danger of not being able to compete in the fall semester, and possibly even further.
To be fair, sources said Jordan's time with St. John's was through last January, when he "took" a "leave of absence" - or went back to Philadelphia without permission and seemed to be leaving the team.
But Steve Lavin, a convincing players' coach, met with Jordan and negotiated his return.
Jordan's on-court game improve later in the year as the Johnnies played a five-guard lineup and a seven-man rotation, but Jordan was a shot-taking role player, not a leader on that team. The hopes for St. John's this year were that Jordan could make a leap in maturity and become the on- and off-court leader for the inexperienced Red Storm; only Chris Obekpa has played major minutes for the Johnnies in Queens, though other eligible transfers have played major roles for their squads at previous institutions.
Steve Lavin was able to shepherd the rest of his charges through the academic rigors of college, graduating all five seniors; but Jordan, whose eyes have been on the pros, still needs work.
New coach Chris Mullin has a roster filled with potential, and also filled with questions; Rysheed Jordan was to be one of the (hopeful) answers. Now, it seems that Jordan may miss the early part of the season as the team learns to mesh.
St. John's has at least one scholarship left, and Federico Mussini, the talented Italian guard who shined at the Nike World Hoops Summit, is said to be leaning to St. John's if he plays in college.
Even with Jordan, the St. John's backcourt was an injury away from real trouble, with only Jordan and LoVett (and possibly 6'6" freshman Malik Ellison) as ball handlers.
Ball handling, ball protection and team cohesion would be a work in progress. Leadership would fall to a newcomer or Chris Obekpa. And finding a player to get buckets when the team struggles? That will be an audition for a number of players.