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.
Louisiana Tech Sports Facilities Damaged by Tornado
A deadly tornado, which has been linked to the death of at least 5 people across two states, damaged several sports facilities located on the campus of Louisiana Tech, according to ESPN.
While no injuries have been reported among the students at the school, two people were killed when the storm ripped through Ruston, Louisiana and caused a tree to fall onto their home.
The school is closed on Thursday and Friday, and the following images were shared on Twitter by the Athletic’s Department, showcasing some of the damage.
Our student-athletes and student body are safe, which is our main concern.— LA Tech Sports (@LATechSports) April 25, 2019
We are still in shock over the devastation to our city and our campus.
Thank you to everyone for the thoughts and prayers. We are still assessing the damage our facilities, but we CAN and WILL rebuild. pic.twitter.com/PMzwXqe7dk
National Weather Service hydrologist C. S. Ross said that the deadly tornado cut a track over 130 miles from eastern Texas to near the Louisiana-Arkansas border.
Video Surfaces Showing Agent Christian Dawkins Promoting Connections to Top Coaches
Another layer has unraveled in the college basketball corruption trial on Wednesday when a video recording of a conversation about paying college coaches and athletes was played on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Paula Lavigne.
In the video dated June 6th 2017, aspiring sports agent Christian Dawkins brags about his connections to top NCAA basketball coaches, including Arizona head coach Seam Miller.
When referring to incoming (at the time) Arizona player Deandre Ayton (who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns) Dawkins says Miller told him, “I’m taking care of everything myself. I wanna bring you in. I’ll turn everything over to you.”
Dawkins is currently on trial for allegedly bribing college coaches.
Marty Blazer, a former financial advisor who was being questioned by prosecutors and who was present for the conversation, said the reference was about Miller “taking care” of payments for Ayton.
“Sean Miller has to know everything that’s going on. I can call Sean and have a conversation … like this is what is needing to be done,” Dawkins said on the video. He said that Miller is, “talking on the phone about stuff he shouldn’t be talking on the phone about.”
Unites States District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled back on Friday that defense attorneys could not subpoena Miller and LSU’s Will Wade to testify during the federal bribery trial.
Rick Barnes Says He Would Have Left Tennessee if UCLA Paid Buyout
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes could have been the next head coach for UCLA, instead of Mick Cronin, if only the Bruins were willing to open up their wallets.
Barnes says that if UCLA would have promised to pay Barnes’ $5 million buyout, he would have left Tennessee to take the job at UCLA.
“I think I would’ve been the coach at UCLA,” Barnes said (h/t ESPN). “I’ve said that to people before. I really felt at that time that’s what would happen.”
Barnes was honest and open with his decision process during the news conference, saying that he struggled with making a final decision due to financial matters.
Barnes has since agreed to a new deal with Tennessee that will pay him $4 million per year before increasing to a $6 million annual sum by the end of the contract and provide more cash for his assistants.
“I’m supposed to be at Tennessee,” Barnes said. “And it’s really above and beyond the basketball program. I’m in love with this community. I’m in love with this state. I just think we got a lot of great things going on in this town.”
“A lot of praying went into it, I can tell you that,” Barnes said. “There was a lot going on. When you get down to a situation like that, it has to make sense from a financial standpoint. Bottom line is we couldn’t work it out with the buyout.”
Barnes also informed UCLA that he would not depart Knoxville without talking to athletic director Phillip Fulmer and others in the community.
I told them point blank, ‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with my team,'” Barnes said. “‘I’m not going to walk out of here and not meet with people here that have been really good to me.’ … I said, ‘You just can’t say send a plane tomorrow and we’re leaving. I’m going to make sure this is done the right way.'”
“There was one time in my mind I truly felt that’s what would happen,” Barnes said about potentially taking the UCLA offer. “It got to that point where I felt like my prayers had been answered.”
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