The future of St. John's basketball hangs in the balance this weekend. While nothing is a slam-dunk, the three prospective high school players in attendance are not only game-changers, but also program changers.
Scheduled to appear at Red Storm Tip-Off on Friday night are; Isaiah Briscoe, the five-star guard from Roselle Catholic in Roselle, New Jersey, Cheick Diallo, a five-star forward from Our Savior New American School in Centereach, NY, and Brandon Sampson, the heavily sought-after five-star guard from Madison Prep in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
As Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports mentions, "...all three (Briscoe, Diallo and Sampson) would likely be immediate starters." He continues by saying, "The Red Storm should have enough this season to compete for an NCAA bid but what comes after that is an unknown."
Cheick Diallo is regarded as not only the top player in New York State, but also one of the top forwards in the nation. A 6-foot-9-inch athletic forward, St. John's faithful is hoping that Chris Obekpa's decision to stay local influences the next generation from Our Savior. (Obekpa is also a former player at Our Savior New American School.)
Also considered in the Red Storm's "backyard" is New Jersey guard Isaiah Briscoe. Hampered by a fractured foot, Briscoe has only just recently returned to action; Steve Lavin and his staff watched him practice last night at his high school, per Adam Zagoria.
The list of destinations as to where Briscoe will matriculate are eye-popping to a college basketball fan. Perennial National title contenders Kentucky and Connecticut have come calling but both Missouri and Seton Hall are hot on the trail as well.
But Lavin pitches location to his target; or in the words of Zagoria, "Lavin pitches the appeal of playing in New York City, at Madison Square Garden, to all his recruits."
Multiple outlets have reported that Briscoe is going to explore all of his options and wait until the spring to make a decision, but those close to the matter have said it may come even sooner than that.
Not lost in the shuffle is two-guard Brandon Sampson, who while not local to New York, would be a tremendous addition to a team in need of creative scoring. Securing a player of Sampson's abilities may be like the domino falling at one end-if one of the top recruits in the nation is willing to make the move to NYC, there may be many more to follow.
Red Storm Tip-Off comes at you on Friday in what will be a pivotal moment for the men's basketball program.