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.
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.”
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
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