It may be the second day of practice, but the hustle for the next wave of St. John’s players continues with a familiar name, and a less-discussed but interesting visit.
The more familiar name is Precious Achiuwa, a top-50 wing who plays at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey - and whose brother, God`sGift Achiuwa, played at St. John’s under Steve Lavin.
The less familiar name? Jalen Gaffney, the point guard for Team Rio, the squad which includes a pair of possible HS All-Americans in Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine.
Jalen Gaffney, a class of 2019 PG from The Westtown School (PA)/Team Rio (NJ), will go on an unofficial visit to St. John's today.— Pat Lawless (@PatLawless_) September 30, 2017
While St. John’s has been pursuing Jalen Lecque, Antoine and others for a guard spot, the team has kept tabs on Gaffney, a slight-of-build but talented point guard.
Last year, our Carmine Carcieri wrote:
[Antoine and Lewis’] teammate, Gaffney, stands at just 6'0", 150 pounds and has only two offers, Binghamton and St. John's. Mullin clearly sees something in the youngster that will help Gaffney develop into a top-100 player by the end of his high school career.
Gaffney, ranked 171 in the 247 Sports Composite, nonetheless has a solid list of interested suitors after a solid summer. He led Team Rio in minutes played and was a solid assist man, handing out assists on over 23% of his teammates’ shots. His outside shot was not falling but he was still an impact player.
Now he claims interest from teams from mid-majors to the top of the college hoops spectrum, and reportedly received offers from the University of Florida and LSU.
The appeal of Achiuwa is obvious. Achiuwa could be a long, athletic wing that can match up at multiple positions an develop as a shooter, a last dynamic piece.
But despite a roster that looks loaded with guards, St. John’s needs to look for a leader for the next classes. Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon would be seniors in 2019, along with Marcus LoVett if he stays until then. Mikey Dixon will be on the roster, but the Johnnies will want to have another dynamic guard to pair with him who can pass and score.
Gaffney has an endorsement from Scottie Lewis:
Jalen Gaffney, I think he’s the most underrated player in our class. His athleticism is insane. You can’t really take a ball from him. He’s a point guard, he’s underrated, he’s looking to come up and I think after Vegas, after Atlanta, and after LA, I think there’s going to be a lot more offers and I’m hoping he gets the same looks that we are and I hope he can be a trio with us.
Can St. John’s make headway with the pair and set up a strong 2019 class?