Following an 8-24 season in year one of their rebuild, Chris Mullin and St. John’s continue to upgrade the talent level in Queens.
Their latest addition is 2017 four-star 7’1″ center Zach Brown, who commitment to the Johnnies on Thursday afternoon.
Brown, a former top-10 recruit, was originally committed to UConn and was leaning towards reclassifying to the class of 2016. He chose the Huskies despite receiving a plethora of offers from Kansas, UCLA, Florida, Ohio State, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina State, and South Carolina.
Things took a turn for the worse as Brown was booted out of Putnam Science Academy in CT following an on-court altercation after a game at a prep tournament in Rhode Island. Brown was then arrested on four charges of robbery and credit card fraud (the armed robbery charge has been dropped and Brown’s attorney is confident the others will also fall into the same boat later this summer).
While this is clearly a risk for Mullin, Brown has very high upside due to his length, mobility and toughness. He is raw, especially defensively where he tends to foul a lot, and doesn’t have a polished post game/mid-range shot, but he has soft hands and good touch around the rim.
Brown will really greatly impact the Red Storm front court with his physicality and ability to crash the glass. St. John’s currently has Yankuba Sima, Kassoum Yakwe, and Tariq Owens, Richard Freudenberg, Darien Williams and Amar Alibegovic in the front court. While the athleticism, length, versatility and depth is evident, there is no “bruiser” on the roster that can battle consistently with strong Big East bigs. Williams has dealt with injuries and Alibegovic nearly transferred out of the program after the 2015-16 season.
Brown joins Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark Jr. and Arizona transfer Justin Simon as three pieces that could immediate launch themselves into the starting lineup in 2017-18. Clark and Simon will provide leadership and extra bodies this season during practice, however, they aren’t eligible to step into a game until next November.
The Red Storm don’t have any scholarships available in 2017, but movement is expected, so they can clear room for Brown.
St. John’s is likely to be in the mix for a postseason tournament this year (probably the NIT). However, 2017-18 could be the first opportunity for the Red Storm to take a massive step in the Big East Conference and on a national scale.