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Beacons of hope: recruiting holds big promise

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But some of the bright future is already in the program.

Wendell Cruz

You have likely read Zach Braziller's recent piece looking towards next season, which is a reminder that, despite the current losses, the staff has done a great job of securing talent for next season.

An excerpt:

Next year’s team should look nothing like the group that has lost 14 straight games. St. John’s will add top 40 Brooklyn guard Shamorie Ponds of Thomas Jefferson in Brooklyn, junior college star Bashir Ahmed of The Bronx, and German forward Richard Freudenberg, on top of Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens and freshman Marcus LoVett Jr., both of whom are sitting out this year.

"We already have things in place," Mullin said, "and that’s a beautiful thing."

How beautiful, only time will tell. But those in the know expect a major improvement upon this dreary season.

"I definitely think they’ll be better, middle or upper echelon [of the Big East] with the returning and new guys," one college coach said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They can be pretty good."

Now, a few comments:

One point of confidence is that, assuming no transfers, the Red Storm look to be somewhat deep.

But it's important not to expect freshmen to become all-conference players immediately. The learning curve in college is steep. And defense is also important - not just the added quickness each of the newcomers should bring, but experience and knowledge of how to defend in a team concept.

Some of the newcomers should be starters, for sure. But it's important to not discount the experience building on the roster. The freshmen, in particular, are players who would be getting spot minutes to get their feet wet in most schools. None of them came in with ready-for-college skills with the exception of Federico Mussini - who still struggles.

The ability of these players to have their liabilities laid out for all to bare, to have film to study, to realize that whatever they are doing while shooting layups is really not working - it has some value.

St. John's won't be complete next season - especially without some leaps in the strength and skill of frontcourt players like Yankuba Sima and Kassoum Yakwe, not without improvement in Mussini's shooting, not without an all-around improvement in Malik Ellison's game (which right now, screams "glue guy" - a la Arizona's Kevin Parrom as he figured his game out).

But having a pair of quick ballhandlers will probably mean the offense will get even more good looks. Bashir Ahmed should bring a consistent slashing/ scoring effort and quickness from the small forward spot. And more skill in the frontcourt will aid a Red Storm team by keeping the big men fresh.

The future is not yet written, but it looks bright.