High-level high school and post-graduate basketball players often have a difficult time choosing a college to continue their basketball journey. And in a pandemic? Schools are chosen after Zoom presentations, sight unseen, with players needing to feel trust in the staff without so much as a handshake.
For Missouri native O’Mar Stanley, the decision on where to play became an easier one after meeting with Mike Anderson and the St. John’s coaching staff.
Stanley, a 3-star prospect out of Link Year Prep, committed to St. John’s early — in November — over Ole Miss, Southeast Missouri State, Milwaukee, UNC-Greensboro, Tulsa, and Austin Peay.
Stanley chose the Red Storm because he believes the school is a place where he can grow his game under a coach who can develop his strengths — like he has for hard work forwards in the past.
“I know Coach Anderson has had a lot of history with Missouri and Arkansas,” Stanley told the Rumble. “He has gotten a lot out of those guys. You see DeMarre Carroll — he has had a pretty good career and Bobby Portis also. For me, it was really development. Coach Anderson really emphasized player development.”
More importantly, Stanley chose St. John’s because it was a place that felt like a family. “I’m real big on family. When he emphasized that ‘we are all one’, I really liked that,” Stanley, who hails from Kansas City, said. “I feel like he did it better than the other coaches.”
Standing at 6’8, Stanley will help bolster a St. John’s frontcourt that was overwhelmed and undermanned at times in the Big East last year. Stanley models his game after Lakers’ forward and former Louisville standout, Montrezl Harrell. Like Harrell, Stanley excels at playing down low in the paint.
Analyzing his own game, Stanley says “back to the basket post play, my speed compared to other bigs, and my touch around the basket” are his strengths. Stanley also emphasized his “leadership” qualities and his “communication skills”, intangibles that will continue the Red Storm’s culture.
Stanley recognizes there are areas where he needs to improve his game in preparation for getting minutes with the Johnnies. Stanley reached out to the coaching staff about a lifting plan to get stronger for Big East play.
“I have been working on my consistency in shooting and ballhandling,” Stanley said. “I feel like if I can be consistent in shooting and making smart decisions and having a high basketball IQ, I can help win a lot of games.”
Stanley will officially move onto campus and start workouts with his new teammates this week. The burly forward will be one of three new freshmen joining a St. John’s team that will have many new faces next season. He has already been communicating with fellow incoming freshmen, Drissa Traore and Rafael Pinzon, who will both arrive later in the spring.
Stanley has never visited the Big Apple and is eagerly anticipating his college experience in New York.
“I am excited for the [New York City] community. I am excited just to get to know people, get outside Kansas City and get around a different culture”, Stanley said.
Stanley is also looking forward to making his Madison Square Garden debut. “I’ve never been to Madison Square Garden before,” said Stanley. “It has always been a dream.”
Mike Anderson has demanded that his players bring the same intensity to the classroom that they bring to the court throughout his coaching career. Stanley fits that archetype. At St. John’s, Stanley plans to study education. He hopes to become a teacher after his playing days are over and give back to his community.
Transfers may have been the story of the offseason, but the Johnnies’ freshmen are a chance to develop a new core to take the Red Storm into the future. So far, O’Mar Stanley’s attitude and desire to improve look like positives in building the culture and improving the team.