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Marcellus Earlington, Greg Williams elect to transfer from St. John’s

The Red Storm lose a lot of experience, and the connection to the previous coaching regime.

Greg Williams drives against Creighton, Marcellus Earrlington sets up for the corner three.
Wendell Cruz

Today, both Greg Williams and Marcellus Earlington announced they were transferring from St. John’s. Josh Roberts is also said to be transferring, but has not put out a definitive statement yet.

All three players are losses.

Greg Williams, a 6’3” junior from Louisiana, was a high-flying guard with shooting ability. On the floor, he was often better when St. John’s was running a set offense, and played a smart floor game. He was not a high usage player, but when he did take shots, he developed an efficient shot from beyond the arc. His ability to elevate and surprise with a dunk was a thrill for fans; his game against Creighton in 2020 with his family in attendance was memorable. He also had great games against Georgetown this season (career-high 26 points in one, 6 assists in the other a close loss). Williams’ length on defense and ability to force steals will be missed.

Marcellus Earlington, from New Jersey, provided toughness and spark for the Red Storm, serving as a way to mitigate the team’s lack of size down the stretch. Anderson would often play Earlington, a former football player and undersized forward with shooting skill, as a center to draw out the opposing center on defense, unclogging driving lanes. His scoring and minutes were not always consistent, but the effort was.

Josh Roberts, an agile forward from Troy, AL, was a quiet offensive player but solid on defense, blocking shots his first two years and, despite his slim frame, decent on the defensive and offensive glass. His time on the floor was limited this season, but Roberts, despite seeing a lot of pine time through the year, put in the effort once on the floor.

Josh Roberts blocks a Marquette shot
Wendell Cruz

Along with the loss of talent, the three players were all set to be seniors next season.

St. John’s loses a lot in terms of minutes, but also in experience — each played a season under Chris Mullin and two seasons under Mike Anderson. And with Moore gone along with Earlington and Roberts, the Red Storm need to find size (along with players to fill out the roster).

The changes

  • Rasheem Dunn (graduating)
  • Arnaldo Toro (graduating)
  • Isaiah Moore (transferring)
  • Vince Cole (transferring)
  • John McGriff (transferring)
  • David Caraher (transferred at mid-season, now at High Point)
  • Josh Roberts
  • Marcellus Earlington
  • Greg Williams

Incoming for the Red Storm are

  • Stef Smith (transfer from Vermont, from Toronto, ON area)
  • Rafael Pinzon (Long Island Lutheran, from Long Island)
  • Drissa Traore (Long Island Lutheran, from Long Island)
  • O’Mar Stanley (Leap Year Prep, Kansas City area)
  • Esahia Nyiwe (Clarendon JC, from South Sudan by way of Omaha and Atlanta High Schools)

There will be ample opportunity for the incoming newcomers next season, but a team never wants to depend on a roster filled with players who have never played Division I college basketball before. And a team that takes some time to understand the rotations in a chaotic, high-energy, turnover-based scheme needs returning players, or risks spending half of the season getting into a rhythm.

With the three recruits from the Chris Mullin era gone, St. John’s finds itself in a familiar place, lacking upperclass talent, depending on whether or not Julian Champagnie returns to campus after exploring his NBA options.

Still, there is a lot of turnover this college basketball offseason, with players able to take an extra season as a compensation for the COVID season, and with players able to transfer and play immediately.