St. John's may be riding the wave of a thrilling 58-57 win over Xavier from last night.
But for every program, recruiting early, recruiting deep, and recruiting well is the lifeblood, part of a plan to field good teams that happens years before those teams set foot on the court. And with many roster spots to fill out for next season but the stage being late in the winter recruiting game, the international pool of recruits has become a place for Steve Lavin to find impact players.
Both SNY.tv and the NY Post have reported that Thomas Akyazili, a Turkish guard who lives and plays in Belgium, was on his official visit this weekend and took in the thrilling 58-57 St. John's win over Xavier.
According to the New York Post, St. John's and Colorado are vying for the 6'2" guard's services, but ESPN analyst and former St. John's coach Fran Fraschilla tabs him as a player who is more of a mid-major impact player, while another coach says he would be a "good get" for the Red Storm.
European Prospects (a solid site) evaluated a game of Akyazili's against northeast prep school Northfield Mount Hermon, noting that his decision making and scoring skills impressed, even if he is athletically limited, a player who can make an impact at the mid-major to high major level.
Akyazili plays for the Port of Antwerp Giants in Belgium, getting some spot minutes with the professional team. In the Under-18 FIBA Tournament, Belgium finished fifteenth out of sixteenth teams in Division A, but Akyazili led his country's side in points (15.1 per game in nine games) and assists (4.6 in nine games, fifth best in the tournament). He scored 21 points against Federico Mussini's Italy team despite sitting out long stretches of the second half with foul trouble.
Highlights from that game:
St. John's, which has 2015 commitments from top-50 guard Brandon Sampson and Philadelphia scoring guard Samir Doughty, are also involved with a seven-footer named Georgios Papagiannis and Italian guard Federico Mussini, and 2015 American guard Marcus Lovett, and a 2016 Finnish wing Lauri Markkanen (6'10", 214 pounds), among others. (2016 target Omari Spellman has already verbally committed to Villanova.)
The Red Storm expect to return Amar Alibegovic, Felix Balamou, Adonis Delarosa (once his eligibility issues are cleared up), and the little-used Christian Jones; Chris Obekpa and Rysheed Jordan will have eligibility remaining, but both are thought to be considering professional opportunities after the season..