You won’t see Mike Anderson’s recruiting class atop any list of rankings. A ton of stars aren’t next to the four players’ names. Some have questioned a few of the commitments in terms of their ability to be impact players in the Big East.
But they all follow a familiar pattern for the new St. John’s coach: hard-working, tough kids who genuinely wanted to attend the Queens school, committing right around the time they visited.
“You want talented players, but I want guys who fit what we’re doing,” said Anderson, who wasn’t able to specifically discuss the players because they have yet to sign national letters of intent. “I want guys that are mentally tough, aggressive, instinctive players.
“You can’t get it twisted. Great players make great coaches. But with that being said, you can’t put a ranking on a guy’s heart. I always thought that.”
The class is made up of high school teammates Posh Alexander and Dylan Wusu of Our Savior Lutheran in The Bronx and junior college prospects Vince Cole and Isaih Moore. St. John’s will still likely add to this group, with the focus on adding another big man.
Of the four, Alexander was the highest rated, a three-star recruit hovering around the top 150. That number has fallen in the past year, as the 5-foot-11 point guard has battled injury and not been seen as much. He picked St. John’s over Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Illinois.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the four is the 6-10 Moore, an athletic big man who will be given the chance to play immediately for St. John’s. He left College of Charleston after one year and limited playing time, and he was being recruited by a number of big-name programs such as Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi State. But he joined Cole, a preseason junior college All-America guard and his former AAU teammate, after his official visit.
In terms of Alexander and Moore, St. John’s beat out other high-major programs. With Cole and Wusu, there wasn’t that obstacle at the time. But a high-major Division I coach familiar with the recruiting class believes this was the right tack.
“I think they’ve done a good job not swinging for home runs,” the coach said. “They hit on all the kids they knew they could get. That’s a smart move.” It’s hard to come in and compete with big schools at this stage of where they are.”
The coach believes Alexander is a “really good recruit” who is “super talented” and will be a good Big East player. Wusu is a tough, physical, 6-4 shooting guard known for his motor. Both seem like strong matches for Anderson’s up-tempo system, seeing as it mirrors their high school style.
“With Mike Anderson, I think he will be [productive there],” the coach said of Wusu.
It’s somewhat similar to what has happened at Seton Hall. While the Pirates have landed upper-tier prospects like Isaiah Whitehead, Angel Delgado and Myles Powell, the development of overlooked prospects such as Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Sandro Mamukelashvili and Ismael Sanogo have been just as important to the program’s rebirth.
St. John’s has chased big names. It is still involved with four-stars Andre Curbelo and Cliff Omoruyi. But it has also prioritized the players it has landed, making them feel wanted, believing in their talent.
“I can’t stress it enough — one of the things as an evaluator you have to do is be able to project a kid down the line,” Anderson said. “Some kids aren’t there right now, but they will be. Our kids, they develop.”
With all four players, Anderson’s recruiting message was similar: You will improve, you will get pushed and you will be part of a big family. Previous coaching staffs have used New York City and the Garden as a major chip in recruiting, taking recruits out in the big city. This staff has of course done that, too, but it has also made a point of showing them what this program is about. That means the team going to Anderson’s home on Long Island, where they will watch college football games together or play card games or go bowling.
“They made a great impression on me and my family,” Cole said. “The whole time we were there, we didn’t talk about basketball. It was more so just building a relationship with everybody that was eye-opening to me.”
The hope, in time, is that this recruiting class will open eyes as well.
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