March 24, 2008

Taking back the city

Don't look now, but the St. John's Red Storm are slowly getting back into the thick of things when it comes to recruiting kids from the New York City area. Since the tenure of Norm Roberts and company took place in 2004, the Red Storm have been able to pluck a player here and there from New York City. While they haven't received them all, it's evident that the attempt to restore the relationship between the Red Storm and New York City is slowly coming together. takes a look at some of the recruits that the Red Storm have signed, shown interest in or even offered since Norm Roberts and his staff took over.

Class of 2004

  • Cedric Jackson - At the time of signing his letter of intent with the Red Storm, the three-star guard was one of the top three shooting guards in New Jersey. While he didn't pan out with the Red Storm it was the start of renewing interest in the program.

  • Eugene Lawrence - Coming out of Lincoln (NY), Lawrence was seen as maybe a NEC type player and somewhat of a gamble. Three years later Lawrence is almost the foundation of the program with his hard nose, no quit play on the basketball court. You can almost say the Brooklyn-born Lawrence is the first child of the Norm Roberts era.

  • Dexter Gray - Gray was a late recruit in the class of 2004 and was recruited heavily by the likes of Villanova and Providence.

    Others from that class that were offered scholarships: A.J. Price (UCONN), Keith Benjamin (Pitt), Gavin Grant (NC State).

    Class of 2005

  • Ricky Torres - Torres was a three-star guard out of Rice (NY). In 2005, you could not find a better shooter in New York City than Torres. His signing was big in the New York City newspapers as the Red Storm beat out both Louisville and Pitt.

    Others from that class that were offered scholarships:

    Levance Fields (Pitt) - The four-star, Brooklyn point guard had the Red Storm in his final two before heading to Pitt. Coming out of Xaverian (NY) Fields was easily one of the two best point guards in the state.

    Danny Green - If Torres was the best shooter in New York City, then four-star Green was the best in Long Island. Before his decision to sign with North Carolina he was down to the Tar Heels, Red Storm and Pitt.

    Jesse Sapp (Georgetown)

    Class of 2006

  • Qa'rraan Calhoun - Once the Hazlet (NJ) star was able to get his grades together he was easily one of the best swing players in New Jersey even cracking the Class of 2006 Top 150 list. In his first season with the Red Storm a year ago the 6- foot- 8 Calhoun proved how valuable he could be on the floor, especially when Lamont Hamilton went down with a season ending injury.

  • Rob Thomas - 6-foot-6 Thomas was one of top 150 for the class of 2006. The Bronx native has yet to play in a Red Storm game because of grades and injury. The timetable on his return is still uncertain, but coming out of high school Thomas was a player who was able to clear space in the paint with a good small forward/power forward game.

    Others from that class that were offered scholarship offers:

    Antonio Pena - Pena committed to Villanova, but if you ask him were St.John's were on his list, he'll indicate that they were one of the finalist to get him.

    Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Will Harris (Virginia), Jon Mitchell (Florida), Taj Gibson (USC), Casiem Drummond

    Class of 2007

  • Malik Boothe - Boothe is the first true "point guard" in the Norm Roberts area. Last season at Christ the King, Boothe could have easily been tabbed as the City's best point guard averaging close to eight assists for the Royals.

  • Mike Cavataio - Ask Boothe or other CHSAA teams about Cavataio's hard nose play and jumper. They will tell you that he might have the sweetest stroke in New York City.

  • Justin Burrell - Before transferring to Bridgton Academy, Burrell was by far one of the top five players in the city. With the Red Storm locking the four-star forward to their team it gave them some respectability in getting a top city player with national fan fare to him as Burrell was selected to play in the Reebok Roundball Classic this past April.

    Others from that class that were offered scholarships:

    Corey Fisher (Villanova), Mile Beatty (George Washington), Nathaniel Lester (Hofstra), Corey Raji (Boston College), Jamine Peterson (Providence)


    As you take a look at the list, you can easily see the turnaround the Red Storm seem to be making in regards of plugging back into the New York City area roots. The thing that should be considered is that the Red Storm have gotten "New York City" guys. They can't get all, but if they can get a class like the 2007 freshman they have coming in, the reaction from recruiting will definitely take a change for the better.

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