St. John’s continues to fill out a nearly-fully turned over roster in Rick Pitino’s first year at the helm of the Red Storm.
The Johnnies have landed a number of transfers to go along with returnees Drissa Traore, Joel Soriano, and Mohammed Keita; guards Cruz Davis, Daniss Jenkins, Nahiem Alleyne and wings Quinn Slazinski and Sean Conway make up eight of 13 scholarships slots.
The Red Storm will also receive a visit from high-scoring Niagara transfer Noah Thomasson, a coveted creative combo guard.
For Noah Thomasson, a unanimous selection to the 2022-2023 All MAAC First Team, there will be one consideration on the top of his agenda when he decides where he will spend his final year of eligibility.
“I want everyone program to know if I go to your school, the goal is to win,” Thomasson told the Rumble. “I could care less about my accolades. I want to go somewhere where I can be a part of something and help a team win and get to the tournament.”
Thomasson recently cut his list to five schools — St. John’s, Georgia, Penn State, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. The coveted transfer visited Georgia this past weekend. He will visit St. John’s this week and then plans to visit Pittsburgh and Penn State before making his decision.
It should not surprise anyone who watched Thomasson at Niagara that high major schools are queuing up to recruit the talented guard. A 6’3 lefty from Houston, Thomasson led the MAAC in scoring last year at 19.5 points per game. He did so while shooting an efficient 38.6% form and 52.1% from inside the arc.
St. John’s is familiar with Thomasson’s ability to score on all three levels as he torched the Red Storm for 24 points last November in a 78-70 St. John’s victory. Thomasson takes pride in being more than just a scorer, however. He is also someone who can set up his teammates, noting that he “came into college as a facilitator, and people have seen my game evolve as a scorer — but I was once a facilitator.”
Thomasson also takes pride in his defense. “I am a willing defender. It’s not something where I am going to shy away from,” Thomasson told the Rumble.
Thomasson models his game after Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, one of the pro game’s best defenders.
There are areas where Thomasson can refine his game. Thomasson is focused on increasing his free throw percentage and taking care of the ball in late-game situations. Thomasson shot 66.7% from the free throw line and averaged 2.5 turnovers per game while taking on a heavy load for the Purple Eagles, numbers which he looks to improve on next season.
Wherever Thomasson commits to, he will experience a jump in competition. Players are stronger, taller, and more athletic in the Power 6 conferences. He remains undeterred by the challenge.
“I think it will be an adjustment period at first,” Thomasson said. “But I think I can really get in the paint and cause disruption in a defense. I think that is something that is going to be utilized no matter what level. Perimeter shooting is something that I can bring to the team no matter the level.”
After transferring from junior college, Thomasson established himself as one of the premier scorers in the MAAC conference. He credits the coaching staff at Niagara and his junior college coach, Kyle Fisher for teaching him how to be a complete basketball player.
Thomasson has not spent a lot of time in New York outside of road trips to Manhattan College for away games. However, Thomasson is familiar with Rick Pitino and the coaching staff; Thomasson’s Niagara team faced Pitino’s Iona squad three times last year; Thomasson expressed great approbation for Pitino’s coaching style.
“He is a hell of a coach, the way he makes adjustments,” Thomasson said. “It’s almost like a chess match when you play him. His teams are tough. They play together. They play a fast-paced game. They want to speed you up and disrupt what you do. They have a lot of success at playing their game. They just play really hard.”
Thomasson also has direct ties to two of his potential future teammates, Quinn Slazinski and Daniss Jenkins. All three grew up together in the Houston area. Jenkins and Slazinski have both reached out to their childhood friend about playing for St. John’s and Rick Pitino.
“I have known Daniss Jenkins for many years now. I have known Quinn Slazinski since I was 4-5 years old. We are from the same area. Obviously, I have competed against those guys and Coach Pitino and Coach Masiello,” Thomasson said.
Thomasson does not have a date in mind when he will make his decision.
The fit at St. John’s for Thomasson is an obvious one. St. John’s has a number of open scholarships and can use Thomasson’s scoring and playmaking ability. It is easy for fans to imagine Thomasson spotting up for three or setting up Joel Soriano for a dunk.
However, Thomasson is ready to accept any role to help his team win, saying, “I just want to be a winner and do whatever the coaches need me to do.”