First, let's state the obvious.
Ron Mvouika (pronounced muh-VWEEK-uh according to Missouri State's website), who will transfer to St. John's and be eligible next season, is not a replacement for Brandon Sampson's skill and potential as a four-year player; Sampson would have been a future star for St. John's.
But the long guard from France transfers in as an interesting player, a piece with some potential, despite injuries. And Mvouika hints at what Chris Mullin and his staff want to emphasize to begin their tenure - an aspect of basketball that Steve Lavin de-emphasized.
Who is Ron Mvouika?
The French guard is a 6'6" player who has been working his way through the lower levels of basketball, playing at the Canarias Basketball Academy (as new commit Yankuba Sima did) and Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He then played at Sheridan College, a JUCO in Wyoming, before moving on to Missouri State.
After a promising junior year at Missouri State, a bulging disc in his back held him out of all but two games his senior season. He graduates from Missouri State this year, allowing him to take advantage fo the graduate transfer exception and play at St. John's while pursuing an advanced degree.
And according to his Missouri State bio, his favorite player is Carmelo Anthony and he would love to play in... Madison Square Garden. Mission accomplished, assuming no injuries befall him before January.
What kind of player is Mvouika?
In his second year at Sheridan in 2012-13, Ron Mvouika averaged 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game, shooting just under 39% on three-pointers; he took just over a third of his shots from distance. Mvoika shot 53% on two-pointers that season. And he scored in single digits (nine points) just once.
Interestingly, he also grabbed double-digit rebounds in 11 of 30 games. And he shot 44% on three-pointers in limited time as a JUCO freshman.
With two years of eligibility, he moved on to Missouri State where he was a key piece for the Bears, leading Coach Paul Lusk's team in scoring twice, grabbing double-digit rebounds twice, and led the Bears in assists six times.
He had a career-high 29 points in a loss to Northern Iowa.
But injury sidelined Ron Mvouika for the season. Coach Lusk noted that "he's a guy who can make plays," and had him pegged for a breakout season, noting his strong per-minute numbers in rebounds and points for the Bears, who play in the Missouri Valley Conference against the likes of Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Illinois State.
Comparisons to St. John's players - by the numbers
His tempo-neutral turnover numbers are a bit high, but his assist rate of 21.8% (percentage of his teammates' shots that he assisted) is fairly strong - in fact, it is higher than Rysheed Jordan's, and Jordan's rate led St. John's last season.
Ron Mvouika's defensive rebounding rate - he grabbed 16.9% of available defensive rebounds in 2013-14 - is slightly lower than Chris Obekpa's rebounding rate (17.2%) and Sir`Dominic Pointer's (17.5%).
In terms of shooting, if comparing him to St. John's most recent tall shooters, Max Hooper and Marc-Antoine Bourgault, Mvouika seems to be able to get his shot off better, taking shots 22% of the time while on the floor, compared to Hooper's 19.9% and Bourgault's 16.6% in 2013-14.
Granted, those numbers are on the Missouri Valley level.
And getting shots off is likely easier at the Missouri Valley level.
But sometimes, basketball is basketball, and some of that ability, if he is healthy, will translate to passing and rebounding.
Is he the hero you've been dreaming of?
(Apologies to the band Chicago for that header.)
It's hard to know whether Mvouika will be a spare part, an extra lengthy shooter - or if he'll be a starter on a team with few guard options (Samir Doughty? Felix Balamou? Myles Stewart?).
His highlights (video below) show a guard who has skill, but not gifted with elite quickness or hops.
And unlike Bourgault or Hooper, he does look to create his own shot with slithering but deliberate drives down the center of the lane, or a one-dribble pull-up two-point jumper; will that work against the likes of Georgetown? Possibly not, or possibly yes.
The lack of quickness doesn't mean he can't be a helpful contributor for the team.
While St. John's fans may have foul memories of Hooper and Bourgault, it may have been that Steve Lavin's desire for athleticism and transition speed relegated those two to the bench and limited time - not just their ability. Indeed, many teams find places for skilled shooters who are less athletic. (If you're wondering, Max Hooper shot 38.3% at Oakland University last season as a transfer.)
At the very least, Ron Mvouika brings height, enough skills that he can fill multiple roles for a team that's hard to gauge in the offseason and rebounding, which Lavin de-emphasized with his guard-heavy recruiting and small lineups.
What does this mean for St. John's?
We'll take a guess.
Ron Mvouika will play a bit and add to a new-look St. John's.
Next year's St. John's team has height to spare, with incoming Philly guard Samir Doughty the shortest scholarship player - and he is a big guard at 6'3".
Last year's team had to work hard to compete on the glass; this year's team will, on paper, be better able to clear opponent misses, gang rebound and, if the coaching staff wants to, chase offensive put-backs.
Mvouika may also be able to help with ball handling, a glaring issue for next year's team unless a new recruit (such as the Italian guard Mussini) commits.
Defense, generally, is helpful for halfcourt defense as well. Long arms deter and alter shots, as long as those players can get into position - as Providence has done with their long lineups. St. John's will be able to play "matchup problem"-level size in the backcourt, with the 6'4" Jordan, 6'4" Balamou, 6'6" Mvouika and 6'8" Darien Williams.
Mvouika will also leave a slot wide open for an incoming 2016 guard, while bringing some skill to the table, and college maturity as well. Mullin and his staff of Barry Rohrssen and Matt Abdelmassih will be able to tell dynamic local guards that at least one, if not two backcourt spots is there for the taking once the player steps on campus.
For a one-year rental, and for a staff that stepped into the recruiting game late in March, when the strongest relationships with solid contributors had already been made, Ron Mvouika may not be a bad pickup.
(And if he is, he's only on campus for a year.)
Ron Mvouika video highlights
These are twenty minutes long. So get some music, grab a snack and watch.