St. John’s fans were treated to a pleasant surprise this afternoon — recent North Carolina de-commit and ESPN top-30 recruit Simeon Wilcher announced his commitment for the Red Storm on Monday.
The 6-foot-4 point guard from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey originally committed to play for North Carolina, but requested to be released from his national letter of intent (NLI) last Tuesday.
This decision came after 2024 five-star guard Elliott Cadeau announced he will reclassify to 2023 and play for North Carolina next season. That decision, on paper, results in a very crowded Tar Heel backcourt that will features R.J. Davis, Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan, former top-30 recruit Seth Trimble, and All-Ivy grad transfer Paxson Wojcik.
Rick Pitino and St. John’s acted swiftly, setting up an on-campus visit for Wilcher last Thursday which was received very well by the class of 2023 guard, according to New York Post’s Zach Braziller. Wilcher was in contact with other programs like Indiana and Seton Hall, but St. John’s was the only school he visited since he de-committed from North Carolina.
Playing alongside top-10 recruit and former St. John’s target Mackenzie Mgbako, Wilcher led Roselle Catholic to a New Jersey state championship, a perfect 17-0 record against in-state competition, and a national ranking of 19th in MaxPreps’s end-of-season high school basketball poll.
The New Jersey guard has been described as a lethal combo guard with an uncanny knack for scoring by On3 national recruiting analyst Jamie Shaw.
“He has a good frame and is an athletic, aggressive downhill scorer. Wilcher has played a lot as the primary initiator this high school season, but he is wired to score,” Shaw writes, “He has a nice pull-up jumper that can get streaky - but still a threat - from beyond the arc. Wilcher has upside as a defensive stopper.”
With Wilcher’s commitment sending St. John’s one slot over the scholarships limit for the 2023-24 season, the program will have to get creative if they want to ensure no previously committed player loses their scholarship.
This will be a very fluid situation that likely won’t have a conclusion until the end of August when Daniss Jenkins finishes his studies at Iona; in which case, he will be able to come to St. John’s as a graduate student and play immediately without a waiver. Otherwise, Daniss Jenkins would have to sit out one season due to the new NCAA ruling barring second and third time undergraduate transfers from immediate eligibility.
In the age of NIL, it’s possible for Wilcher to walk-on and have his tuition covered by an NIL agreement. Similar deals have been reached in college athletics, when BYU sponsor collective Built Brands pledged to provide full tuition for walk-on football players in 2021. A precedent for a top recruit playing without an athletic scholarship already exists in college basketball, albeit under unique circumstances. Back in 2011, Andre Drummond took out student loans and played as a walk-on for UConn after NCAA violations restricted the Huskies to 10 scholarships.
Wilcher becomes the Red Storm’s highest-rated recruit according to 247Sports since Rysheed Jordan in 2013, and he will be the program’s second four-star recruit from the 2023 class, joining Los Angeles-area freshman Brady Dunlap. He is also the brother of C.J. Wilcher, who played his freshman season at Xavier before transferring to Nebraska for the past two seasons.