Head Coach Steve Lavin is doing wonders with the St. John’s program in his first 6 months on the job. It seems like almost every day there is more positive news coming out about the Red Storm. On Thursday, Lavin received his 5th national letter of intent of the class of 2011.
“This class, which will become one of the largest signed in collegiate basketball, comprises the foundation of the St. John’s program moving forward,” said Lavin. “The arrival of the 2011-12 class, along with an elite returning talent in Dwayne Polee II, is the core group that will carry the Johnnies into the future.”
“I’m glad I got it out of the way,” says Sampson. “Now I can focus on school and basketball.”
For Sampson signing his national letter of intent was not only a big deal for him, but for his mother as well.
“There was weight on my shoulders all summer, calls were coming in every day,” said Sampson. “It had my mom all stressed out but now that it’s over with she finally has peace of mind.”
His new teammate Nurideen Lindsey is just as happy to sign on the dotted line.
“It feels great,” said an excited Lindsey when I asked him about officially signing his national letter of intent to St. John’s.
It’s been a long process for the Redlands Community College point guard, but certainly it is one that has paid off.
“I’m ready to finally get out there with the other great guys that are coming in with me,” said Lindsey. “Now I can spend more time in the gym because my decision is made.”
Moe Harkless is the guy that got the 2011 class started. Without him taking the leap of faith this class may not have taken the same course.
“Maurice is the best player in New York City,” said Lavin. “He is an excellent athlete, highly-skilled and versatile enough to contribute at multiple positions.”
Aside from the actual skills on the court Harkless possess, Lavin continues to let everyone know how important it is to keep kids from New York, playing basketball in New York.
“Maurice is going to be our ‘pied piper,” said coach Lavin. “His choice in coming to St. John’s will lead other elite local talent back to New York City’s college basketball program.”
Focusing back on Lindsey, he is the player in the shadows not being mentioned, but his play is going to change that.
On November 2nd against Ft. Scott, in his first game in over a year, Lindsey dropped 48 points. He followed that game with a 26 point, 7 assists, 7 steals, 5 rebounds performance against Labette, and on top of that, he poured in 33 points on Monday against South Plains College.
“I’m not into playing for spotlight, other peoples opinions, or anything in that nature,” said Lindsey. “I play for my team and my program.”
With everything he has been through, all this talk about recognition and hype go by the wayside, he is ready to let his play do the talking.
“When the time is right,” Lindsey said sternly, “I’ll shine for everybody that don’t know who I am.”
Harrison is coming all the way from Texas to be apart of the Red Storm, and he comes with high praise.
“D’Angelo is a dynamic combination guard. He is a prolific scorer and clearly one of the best shooters in the nation,” said Lavin.
Pointer is also hailing from a distance, bringing his talents down to the big apple from Michigan.
“In addition to a well-rounded offensive skill set, Dominic is a dynamic athlete who has demonstrated a propensity at the defensive end of the floor,” said Lavin. “We envision Dom growing into a role as a defensive stopper. It is refreshing to find a player at his young age that prides himself in defense like Dominic does.”
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better another domino falls in favor of the Red Storm.
Earlier today, 6’10 power forward from Prince High School in Long Beach, California, Norvel Pelle verbally committed to St. John’s on ESPNU.
“It feels like a home away from home,” said Pelle. “Coach Lavin is a very smart coach. I just loved the way he approached the situation. He was calm, and cool, He knew other schools wanted me and he gave me space and also made sure I knew they wanted me.”
One of Pelle’s potential new teammate, JaKarr Sampson is excited with the verbal and knows this makes St. John’s that much better.
“He is a real cool guy, he’s goofy like me,” said Sampson. “Norvel is a great shot blocker, athletic, he can jump out the gym, it’s just fun to play with those kind of players.”
Sampson said Pelle is the perfect fit and “it’s not just another big man, he doesn’t just stand there, he is crazy athletic and can run the floor.” Sampson confidently said that people better be ready, “we are going to hit the ground running.”
Pelle visited St. John’s last weekend and was in attendance for the 100-42 Red Storm exhibition win over Westmont. During the game the students in the jungle [student section] chanted “We want Pelle,” and apparently Pelle wanted St. John’s too.
The news of St. John’s success on the recruiting trail for 2011 is spreading like wild fire. Everyone is taking notice, even class of 2013, Christ the King PG, Isaiah Lewis.
“Yes, I’m really considering St. johns,” speaking about his budding interest after taking notice on twitter to their success on the recruiting trail. “I like what coach Lavin is doing right now. I’m going to take some visits up there to see how he practices and things like that, but they are on my radar for sure.”
Lewis said he plans on visiting the St. John’s campus sometime in the month of December.
The 2011 class for Steve Lavin gets exponentially better with the addition of a solid big man like Pelle.
How much better you may ask? Well at 4:30pm in New York, ESPN had St. John’s as the #7 class in 2011. As of 5:30pm they are now #3.
This recruiting class is already exuberating excitement and confidence as it nears completion. JaKarr Sampson is already looking into his crystal ball. “They are going to have to make room for us on Sports Center once they see a couple games.” You have to love the sound of that if you are a Red Storm fan.
The season kicks off for coach Lavin and his Red Storm on Tuesday, November 16th as St. John’s travels to Moraga, California to take on the St. Mary’s Gaels. Be sure to check out JohnnyJungle.com for Calm Before the Storm the must read column before every St. John’s basketball game providing in depth analysis on the Red Storm and their opponent.