42.St. John’s Red Storm
The Red Storm come into this season with high expectations as they return Shamorie Ponds and they added Mustapha Heron. Heron has yet to be ruled eligible for this season although there is a belief the NCAA will give him a waiver. This season is one in which the Red Storm need to get to the NCAA Tournament, as they haven’t been there under head coach Chris Mullen and the fanbase is getting frustrated. Overall this team with or without Mustapha Heron is talented enough to make the NCAA Tournament, the key for the Red Storm will just be depth and whether or not they can stay healthy.
The Red Storm begin and end with Shamorie Ponds, who is an All-Big East player, who led the conference in scoring while finishing fourth in assists per game as well. Ponds has already scored over 1,000 points in just two seasons at St. John’s and he should continue to put up big numbers both scoring and assisting. Justin Simon will play alongside Ponds, his ability to both score and pass the ball will be key for the Red Storm this season. If Mustapha Heron gets ruled eligible he will play with both of them at a guard position, he led Auburn in scoring last season and he has proven to be an elite playmaker at the highest level, which would definitely help out the Red Storm. LJ Figueroa is a 6’6” guard who was an NJCAA All-American last year and should step in nicely this season for the Red Storm. Mikey Dixon will also play a lot this season off the bench, as he is a proven scorer at the low-major level. Bryan Trimble will play some minutes this year, however, don’t expect a whole lot out of him. Overall this backcourt is one of the better ones in the Big East already without Heron, however, him being ruled eligible would dramatically improve their team.
The Red Storm return Marvin Clark, a fifth-year senior who has proven to be a good stretch four, as he can make jump shots while having the ability to rebound well on the defensive end. Sedee Keita is a South Carolina transfer who will help bring some size up front, as he will be their best rebounder and post-player. Josh Roberts adds some more size up front, while undersized forward Marcellus Earlington brings more physicality to the Red Storm. Overall this unit has a lot of question marks, as only Clark is a proven player, while everyone else is more of a question mark right now.
The Red Storm definitely didn’t do themselves any favors this year scheduling wise, as they will leave the Tri-State area only once before Big East play. The Red Storm will play at Rutgers, then California and either Temple or VCU in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center. The Red Storm will play Georgia Tech in Miami for the HoopHall Miami Invitational. The Red Storm will begin Big East play on December 29th when they play at Seton Hall, with their season ending on March 9th when they play at Xavier. Mixed in between Big East play will be a February 2nd game where the Red Storm will play at Duke. The Big East Tournament runs March 13th-16th with the NCAA Tournament starting on March 19th.
What to expect this season
The Red Storm’s season is very dependent upon the eligibility of Mustapha Heron as he provides that extra scoring the Red Storm need to be good. If he is playing, this team has Top-25 talent and could reasonably compete atop the Big East with teams like Villanova, Butler, and Marquette. If not this is a bubble team that will likely be fighting to get in on Selection Sunday. Expect Shamorie Ponds to once again put up big numbers and potentially win Big East Player of the year. If this team does make the Tournament it will keep Chris Mullin’s seat cool for now and it should help bring the Red Storm back to relevancy.
PG: Shamorie Ponds
SG: Justin Simon
SF: LJ Figueroa
PF: Marvin Clark
C: Sedee Keita
Key Reserves: Mikey Dixon, Bryan Trimble, Josh Roberts
*Mustapha Heron would start in place of LJ Figueroa if ruled eligible