With the St. John's roster set to gain a solid influx of talent, sophomore forward Amar Alibegovic has decided to transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
"I've had a great experience at St. John's and would like to thank the coaching staff and administration for all of their support the last two years," Alibegovic said. "I am just looking for an opportunity where I can play more and continue to chase my dreams."
"We respect Amar's decision and wish him nothing but the best," Chris Mullin said. "He's a good basketball player and a good person with a bright future ahead."
The Rome, Italy native was brought in before Steve Lavin's last year (2014) with the program, but played just 8.4 minutes off the bench while averaging 1.5 points per game during his freshman campaign. He struggled to adjust to the speed of the college game, was often out of position on both ends of the floor and shot a brutal 23 percent from downtown.
But when Mullin took over before the start of the 2015-16 season, Alibegovic was one of three returnees, along with Christian Jones and Felix Balamou, and was able to drastically improve his production on a rebuilding team. The 6'9" power forward upped his scoring average to 5.1 points per game, grabbed 2.8 rebounds per game, provided the Johnnies with momentum changing put back dunks and was able to space the floor with his improved three point shooting.
Alibegovic had a career game in the Red Storm's unexpected win over Syracuse, as he dropped 15 points (5-of-6 from the field) and grabbed nine rebounds. He also scored 18 points and grabbed six boards in the Red Storm's 10 point loss on the road at Villanova and put up 17 points in a win at the Maui Invitational against Chaminade.
The sophomore forward was not a great rebounder for his size and did not provide much on the defensive end, but Mullin consistently credited Alibegovic for his excellent work ethic and shooting ability.
"He's worked really really hard, Mullin said following the win over Syracuse. "As hard as anybody. It's more about him getting experience. Practice is important and he's done pretty well. He's had some nice games so I think (the potential) is there. We see it."
The Johnnies have six scholarships wrapped up in players that were active last year but they will also add four-star guard Shamorie Ponds, German forward Richard Freudenberg, JUCO wing Bashir Ahmed and two players who were ineligible last season, former four-star point guard Marcus LoVett and Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens.
With Owens, Yakwe and Sima projected to develop their game to another level with a full offseason on campus, Alibegovic was likely to find himself playing limited minutes next season. His departure will open up an extra scholarship so Mullin and company will have two slots remaining.
The Johnnies remain a long shot to land five-star 7'0" center Thon Maker but they are expected to be active on the transfer market and could look for a physical big to develop their versatility on the interior.