2019 may be a long way away, but Chris Mullin and St. John's are getting a head start on two potential superstars and another under the radar talent.
Three Team Rio teammates, Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine and Alex Klatsky, will visit St. John's unofficially on Monday.
Lewis and Antoine's stocks have blown up this spring and summer (Kentucky and other major schools have shown interest in their services) due to their performances on the Under Armour Circuit. Antoine finished third in scoring with 17.9 points per game, while Lewis finished eighth in rebounds and averaged 11.9 points per game.
Klatsky averaged only 2.8 points per game on the UAA Circuit, but he shot 34 percent from deep and 38 percent overall from the field.
All three players are far from finished products, but the Johnnies are trying to develop relationships early in the process so that they can bolster their future backcourt.
Lewis, a 6'5", 170 pound guard who is ranked 16th in ESPN's top 25 for the class of 2019, has great energy, explosiveness, athleticism and length for a rising sophomore in high school. He is a tremendous slasher, an effective player in transition, a really solid on-ball defender, and a player that maintains a quick first step that catches the defense off-guard.
He still needs to build strength to improve on both ends of the floor, but more importantly, his feel for the game and ability to limit turnovers must be fixed before he takes center stage at the college level.
At 16 years old, Lewis isn't a ready made prospect (he still may be growing), especially skill wise, but it's rare to find a player at his age with his combination of physical tools, explosiveness, energy level, intangibles and flashes of skill. At the very least Lewis figures to be an energy athlete at the college level and beyond, but if his skill level develops as it should, he has a chance to be a well-known name sooner rather than later.
Antoine stands at 6'5", 170 and is ranked 21st on ESPN's top 25 for the class of 2019. While Lewis is a better defender, Antoine is more polished offensively, has a better skill level at this point in his career, and has all the tools to eventually develop into a legit on-ball defender.
The Tinton Falls, NJ native has great size, length and athleticism, while supporting a solid frame that can build up more strength over time. Antoine can create with the ball in his hands, using his elite ball handling skills, understanding of pick-and-roll situations and ability to rise above the defense to get off a jump shot. He could become more consistent in terms of finishing around the rim, but he should be a dynamic "bucket getter" at the next level.
Klatsky, a 6'2", 155 pound guard, tore his ACL in eighth grade and has recovered nicely to help Team Rio off the bench this summer in the UAA Circuit. He obviously doesn't receive as much attention or notoriety as Lewis and Antoine, but he does bring solid shot making from the perimeter and good instincts on the offensive end of the floor.
While it's way to early to get a feel for where all three of these prospects will be landing, St. John's wants to make an early impression that could keep them in the mix when major schools (like Kentucky) offer scholarships.