Has Rick Pitino already built a Top 25 program at Saint John’s? | Locked on College Basketball
Pitino’s new look roster is deep, talented, and prepared to compete in the loaded Big East conference.
QUEENS, N.Y. — Rick Pitino hasn’t even coached a game yet in his return to the Big East conference, but already he’s made his presence felt in a major way with a complete overhaul of the roster at St. John’s, where he took over as head coach shortly after the 2022-23 season ended.
The Red Storm failed to make the NCAA Tournament in all four seasons under coach Mike Anderson, ultimately letting him go after the team went a combined 15-24 in the Big East the past two years.
They struck quickly to bring in Pitino, who spent the last three seasons building Iona into a MAAC powerhouse, and he went to work immediately replacing nearly the entire Red Storm roster, bringing in transfers from all over the country including the most recent addition, Chris Ledlum, a 6’6 forward who played at Harvard the past three seasons and committed to Tennessee this offseason before backing out and coming to New York.
Pitino’s new look roster is deep, talented, and prepared to compete in the loaded Big East conference, and Locked on College Basketball host Andy Patton and college basketball writer Tristan Freeman discussed what the shifting expectations will look like in Queens next season.
“This is a veteran roster that’s ready to win and should win, and you’re going to have all the opportunities possible to build up a resume,” Freeman said. “So if they don’t do it, something went wrong. And when you have Rick Pitino, that’s not going to be acceptable.”
Ledlum will slide into the power forward spot alongside frontcourt stalwart Joel Soriano. The bigs will be flanked by high scoring guards Jordan Dingle and Daniss Jenkins from Penn and Iona, respectively, while Nahiem Alleyne (UConn) Glenn Taylor (Oregon State) Zuby Ejiofor (Kansas) and Sean Conway (VMI) should contribute as well.
All this paints a picture of the Red Storm beginning the season as a preseason Top 25 team, where they’ll likely be joined by at least three other Big East teams in UConn, Creighton, and Marquette.
Pitino is used to competing in a loaded Big East, having done so at Providence back in the 1980’s and again at Louisville before they joined the ACC, and his return to the conference should make for a fantastic storyline in the 2023-24 college basketball season.
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