St. John's was delivered a huge blow before their fourth Big East game against Marquette, as freshman center Yankuba Sima is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post.
Sima played just 11 minutes (zero points) on Wednesday night against Xavier and was seen icing his hand during timeouts, at halftime and for the majority of the second half. Head coach Chris Mullin said following the loss that he had no information on the big man.
The freshman center from Spain is the team's leading rebounder (6.8 per game) and is averaging 8.4 points and 3.1 blocks, which is good for sixth in the nation and first in the Big East. He was the team's best player in their first two conference games, scoring 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting versus Creighton and had a monster second half at Providence where he totaled 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed eight boards.
Sima's offensive game has developed in the past couple of months as he continues to improve his feel, touch and ability to finish with either hand in the post. He is shooting 50 percent from the floor and also has shown he is capable of being a solid free throw shooter down the road (40 percent currently but has nice form).
While the Johnnies certainly won't find themselves in the NCAA Tournament, the rest of this season is critical for the continued improvement of the young talent on this St. John's roster. This is a major loss as Sima's progressions were evident and battling against some of the best forwards/centers in the Big East would be a great learning experience in order to take the next step in 2016-17.
This injury will open up more minutes and opportunities for sophomore Amar Alibegovic, freshman Kassoum Yakwe and junior Christian Jones.