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St. John's in elite early season tournament 2016 Battle 4 Atlantis

The men's squad will have chance to play high-profile teams and get some beach time in the Bahamas.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The mission to craft the image of St. John's as a high-profile program continues even after Steve Lavin's departure. St. John's, which will participate in the Maui Invitational in the fall, will also play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in 2016.

Battle 4 Atlantis, played in a dark ballroom in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving, has brought in top competition since its inaugural season. Last year, Wisconsin, Georgetown, Butler, North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma, Florida and Alabama-Birmingham. Of that group, only Florida - ranked at the time - did not make the NCAA Tournament.

Butler emerged from that tournament as a ranked team to be feared, despite looking like a middling Big East team before the tournament; they won the third place game over Georgetown (no, it was not considered a conference game).

Next year's Battle 4 Atlantis has Syracuse, Michigan, Connecticut, Gonzaga, Texas, Texas A&M, Washington and UNC-Charlotte.

Meanwhile, St. John's will enjoy beach time on the Pacific island of Maui, facing a field that includes Kansas, UCLA, UNLV, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Wake Forest and host Division II Chaminade.

Tournaments like these - widely watched and against great competition - keep the St. John's name fresh nationally. Coupled with Chris Mullin's name, his intended style, and New York City, there's a lot to sell to incoming recruits, and reasons for fans to jump on board as the program builds.

Steve Lavin and his staff found ways to keep St. John's a topic of conversation with highly-rated recruits, NBA Draft picks, the promise of potential and high-end tournaments. The new team, a complete roster overhaul that returns only Chris Obekpa as a major contributor, has a chance to build on that promise with high-profile wins and NCAA Tournament appearances.