College Basketball

Newly Hired Rick Pitino Gets Right to Work for St. John’s

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This week, the Red Storm got their man that many hope will return the storied program and once Big East powerhouse back to the ranks of the true bluebloods in college hoops. Pitino was hired by St. John’s after his Iona Gaels were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

Pitino listed a multitude of reasons as to why he was drawn to St. John’s, but the two biggest were the storied history of the program and the fact that he doesn’t have to move. The St John’s campus adds about 20 minutes to his old commute to the Iona campus.

Getting Right To Work

Fresh off his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Pitino and his staff wasted no time on building up the St. John’s roster as they held many players meetings and hit the recruiting trail. On Wednesday afternoon, the newly appointed head coach of St. John’s paid a visit to Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains to scout two promising guards, Boogie Fland, and Danny Carbuccia. Fland, a five-star guard and the second-ranked player in New York for the class of 2024 caught the attention of the coaching staff.

With Pitino and assistant coach Steve Masiello in attendance, the duo observed Fland’s skills during practice and expressed interest in recruiting the talented junior. Fland’s father revealed that high-major programs such as Kentucky, Alabama, Seton Hall, Michigan, Kansas State, and Virginia Tech have also been pursuing the dynamic guard from The Bronx.

“Just the fact that Rick Pitino after one day of having his press conference, to go out there and visit him, it just shows he really wants Boogie,” said John Fland. “It shows his mindset. And Boogie is one of his priorities at the moment.” – John Fland, Father of Boogie Fland

Roster Plans Are Taking Shape

During his press conference on Tuesday, Coach Pitino revealed that he plans to add six to eight new players to the St. John’sNewly Hired Rick Pitino Gets Right to Work for St. John's roster for the upcoming season, implying that several current players will not be returning. The new coaching staff is currently evaluating the holdovers and will begin meeting with them at the end of the week. In addition, the team has already expressed interest in pursuing transfers such as MAAC Player of the Year Walter Clayton Jr. from Iona and Brooklyn native Chris Ledlum, a talented forward from Harvard.

Furthermore, Pitino has extended scholarship offers to some of the nation’s top recruits, including junior Carter Bryant, who is ranked fourth nationally by 247Sports and was previously considering Louisville and Arizona. The coaching staff is also targeting highly regarded four-star junior Ahmad Nowell and top-100 prospect Garwey Dual, who recently de-committed from Providence after Coach Ed Cooley left for Georgetown.

While signed four-star recruit Brandon Gardner and junior college All-American Yaxel Lendeborg have expressed their commitment to St. John’s, they plan to meet with Pitino before making a final decision. The coaching staff has not yet announced whether these players will be included in their plans for the upcoming season.