Chris Mullin and St. John's will be headed to Hawaii in November for one of the most exciting preseason tournaments in college basketball: The Maui Invitational.
The Johnnies will be matched up against a potential top 25 team from the SEC, Vanderbilt, in the opening round and are placed on the same side of the bracket as a dynamic Indiana team. The tournament takes place at the Lahaina Civic Center from November 23-25 and will be hosted (as usual) by Chaminade.
With Chris Obekpa, Rysheed Jordan, Steve Lavin and four seniors moving on, St. John's will obviously look completely different this season. Mullin will be coaching a group of versatile, inexperienced players including newcomers Ron Mvouika, Durand Johnson, Darien Williams, Yankuba Sima, Malik Ellison, Marcus LoVett and Frederico Mussini.
Meanwhile, the Commodores finished seventh in the SEC with a 21-14 record and finished last season winning five out of six in conference play. Wade Baldwin IV, Matthew Fisher-Davis and Riley LaChance make up an underrated, young backcourt with the ability to take a huge step in year two together. Damian Jones, who is a future pro at the center position, could pose a major problem for the Johnnies, and other teams in Maui, due to his experience and his high-level skills.
Indiana, who could eventually face the Red Storm depending on how the two teams fare early on in bracket play, could be ranked in the top 15 after James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell returned to school. Tom Crean also added freshman big man Thomas Bryant and they return Troy Williams and Robert Johnson from last season's NCAA Tournament unit.
The remaining teams in the field include host Chaminade, Kansas, UCLA, UNLV and Wake Forest.
Overall, the tournament should feature four preseason top 25 teams and two possible Final Four contenders.