#87 St. John's Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

St. John’s Red Storm
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #87
Conference Rank: #8 Big East
St. John's Logo
St. John’s failed to make the postseason again in Coach Chris Mullin’s second season, but they showed serious improvement from his first year at the helm. After only winning one conference game in 2015-16, the Red Storm put together seven Big East wins last season. St. John’s had Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett both make the Big East All-Freshmen Team and both should continue to get better as sophomores. The Johnnies also add two impact transfers from two big-time schools who should both strengthen the roster this season. St. John’s may not be ready to contend for a Big East title or an NCAA Tournament appearance, but the Red Storm should be more competitive this season and finally make a postseason berth under Chris Mullin.
2016-17 Record: 14-19, 7-11
2016-17 Postseason:
Chris Mullin
Coach Record:
22-43 at St. John’s, 22-43 overall
Who’s Out:
Combining the impressive production of the freshmen last season with talented transfers becoming eligible this year, St. John’s saw some key contributors depart with their playing time in question. Italian guard Federico Mussini left after two seasons at St. John’s to play professionally in his home country. After his playing time decreased by about ten minutes per game, Mussini elected to move on to a different opportunity. Starting small forward Malik Ellison decided to transfer to Pittsburgh this offseason. Ellison didn’t lose playing time as a sophomore and put up solid numbers, averaging 7.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. However, with Justin Simon and Marvin Clark becoming eligible, Ellison’s playing time likely would have taken a hit this year. Darien Williams also decided to become a grad transfer and play for a different school. Williams played some important minutes at center last season that the Johnnies will need to replace. Richard Freudenberg also left the program to pursue professional basketball after scoring 1.3 points per game in 26 appearances last season.
Who’s In:
The Red Storm will have two important transfers become eligible this season. Justin Simon from Arizona and Marvin Clark Jr. from Michigan State will see their first action for St. John’s this season. Simon was previously a top-40 prospect in 2015, but failed to get much playing time in the loaded Arizona backcourt. Simon should be able to flourish in Chris Mullin’s system. Clark is a 6-7 forward who played 9.7 minutes per game on Michigan State’s Big Ten championship team in 2015-16. Clark was also a rotation player when the Spartans made the Final Four in 2015 and can provide veteran leadership for the Johnnies. St. John’s also brings in two freshmen, Bryan Trimble and Sid Wilson. Trimble is a three-star, 6-3 guard from Kansas City who adds depth in the backcourt. Wilson is a 6-7 forward who was a four-star prospect from the Bronx. Wilson will likely be a role player this season, but could become a star in years to come. Mikey Dixon (Quinnipiac) and Sedee Keita (South Carolina) both transferred into St. John’s this offseason, but both will have to sit out the 2017-18 campaign.
Who to Watch:
Last year’s two star freshmen, Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, are back this season. Ponds set the school freshman scoring record with 17.4 points per game. Ponds also added 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals per game, making him a unanimous selection to the Big East All-Freshman Team. LoVett joined Ponds on the All-Freshman Team behind 15.9 points, 3.8 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. LoVett had two 30-point performances as a freshman, showing his ability to fill the stat sheet. Both players should continue to grow as sophomores. Bashir Ahmed will be a senior this season after starting all 33 games last season and finishing third in scoring with 13.4 points per game. Ahmed might lose some playing time with the transfers coming in, but will still be able to provide senior leadership. Tariq Owens, Kassoum Yakwe, and Amar Alibegovic are also all back as experienced role players after each played double-digits minutes last season.
Final Projection:
The 2017-18 campaign should be St. John’s’ most competitive season since they made the NCAA Tournament in 2014-15. Chris Mullin has had to rebuild this program over the last two seasons, and they could finally see a postseason berth this year. Freshmen sensations Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett were spectacular in their first seasons and should only get better as sophomores. Transfers Justin Simon and Marvin Clark will add talent and experience to the roster. This should be the Johnnies’ most complete team since Mullin took over in 2015. The Big East will be competitive again this season, but St. John’s should be able to hold their own.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Marcus LoVett, Sophomore, Guard, 15.9 points per game

Shamorie Ponds, Sophomore, Guard, 17.4 points per game
Justin Simon, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
Marvin Clark, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Bashir Ahmed, Senior, Forward, 13.4 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.8 (96th in nation, 4th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 78.7 (312, 10)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.3 (240, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 46.1 (282, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.4 (82, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (107, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (104, 6)
Rebound Margin: -4.5 (314, 10)
Assists Per Game: 13.5 (171, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.1 (187, 7)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#114 Sidney Wilson