Chris Mullin continues to add new blood to the St. John’s program, and in year three, the talent is still rising.
St. John’s only has one player in the freshman class of 2018 that will play this season - Bryan Trimble, Jr. (who is joined by Boubacar Diakite, but Diakite is redshirting).
But the hope for St. John’s comes from the newcomers - Trimble, and the standout transfers Justin Simon and Marvin Clark, who are expected to elevate the Johnnies into a winning squad, and possibly the postseason.
Simon, listed at 6’5” and 215 pounds, is an athlete who played point guard in high school but found himself, in limited minutes, playing less of a facilitator role with the Arizona Wildcats.
Marvin Clark II, listed at 6’7” and 230 pounds, was a solid bench player for the Michigan State Spartans who took on a bigger role in the last month of his career in East Lansing.
Bryan Trimble, Jr., a 6’3” guard listed at 220 pounds, brings a solid shooting touch and potential to the squad.
The two transfers bring experience at programs playing at the highest levels of the sport, while Trimble is a player eager to learn and able to provide minutes on the perimeter - and maybe more as the year continues.
Clark, in particular, brings a great backstory of overcoming hardship and a level of maturity and leadership that should help guide the squad. Simon, too, is an active voice; the two have been chomping at the proverbial bit to get on the floor and share their energy with St. John’s fans.
What can we expect on the floor for St. John’s, compared to last season? And how will the three newcomers be an improvement from the talent on the floor last year?
From Justin Simon
Expectations: Look for a much more confident and physically tough version of Simon at St. John's. If he's improved his jump shooting, he could be a big producer on offense but there's not much question he should help defensively.
Before college, Scout.com’s Josh Gershon thought Simon had potential (note: currently a dead link), but not in one particular area:
“Justin is a very good player,” Gershon said. “He’s more of a jack of all trades. He can pass, defend and finish around the rim pretty well. His length gives him an advantage on the defensive end, he is disruptive in the passing lanes and he can defend multiple spots.”
Justin Simon’s skill set - a slasher who shot 50% inside the arc at Arizona but eschewed three-pointers - complements a Red Storm team that enjoys the outside shot. In early action, Simon has been an excellent ball handler and a good passer, a player who helps activate the open-court electricity this team could potentially display.
While Malik Ellison (transferred to Pittsburgh) was a solid player with good games for the Johnnies, Simon should provide a higher level of defense, more athleticism in transition, and the ability to add rebounds on both ends.
Ellison’s good games will be a tough act to follow (16 points, six rebounds, five assists in a win against Syracuse, for example). But Ellison went scoreless in three games, struggled with turnovers, and was less of a scorer inside the arc.
Simon should be a net positive addition.
From Marvin Clark
Kansas City area native Marvin Clark played for two years at Michigan State, averaging four points/ two rebounds per game in limited minutes, and he fought some injuries.
But slipped into the rotation on Valentine’s Day against Indiana in 2016, Clark took off, shooting 7/11 from beyond the arc as the Spartans went undefeated until a surprise loss against Middle Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament (where he only played four minutes).
In that season Clark shot nearly 60% inside the arc along with 42% outside, grabbing 19% of opponents' misses.
He will be an upgrade over Darien Williams, who transferred to Nevada. And he will be an upgrade over Richard Freudenberg, who struggled in his only collegiate season. Not only will Clark be able to play more minutes and foul less than Williams’ seven fouls per 40 minutes, but Clark has a proven ability to nail outside shots. Clark should be far more effective in transition.
The Johnnies lose a little bit of height, but gain a more enthusiastic rebounder, and a better on-ball defender. The games will tell the tale of whether he is a better low-post scorer. He should be, on paper, but the games are not played on paper.
Clark will be a net positive addition.
From Bryan Trimble
Trimble, playing behind Justin Simon, Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, will see spot minutes (barring injury). He has looked to have a smooth outside shot and decent footwork on defense.
He will not be Federico Mussini, for good and bad. Mussini was the team’s most effective outside shooter, nailing 43% of his threes on the season and 38% in Big East play.
On the other hand, some of Mussini’s scoring bursts came with the team trailing in games; Mussini was also inconsistent to invisible in the Red Storm’s high-profile games, with the exception of his 16 points in a win over Georgetown. His two-point shooting percentage was 37%, with him unable to finish transition shots and shots at the rim. On defense, Mussini had passable moments and improved from freshman year, but was not a plus on that side of the court.
Trimble can fill this role of spot shooter admirably. Can he be the low-turnover player Mussini was? That is harder to gauge. Mussini certainly had a sense of when to give up the ball while playing off-guard (perhaps too much of a sense?), and that has some value.
On defense, though, Trimble can be an upgrade.
Which player will have the biggest positive impact on St. John’s this season?
Which newcomer will have the biggest positive impact on St. John’s?
This poll is closed
Marvin Clark II [F]
Justin Simon [G]
Bryan Trimble [G]