By Joseph Staszewski
Chris Mullin and St. John’s made recruiting locally a priority from day one. They backed up that talk by landing the likes of Jefferson’s Shamorie Ponds and former Kennedy star Bashir Ahmed for the coming season.
The Johnnies’ next big prospects from the area could come from just outside the five boroughs. They are a duo of major players for Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains: junior Jordan Tucker and sophomore Aundre Hyatt. The two have already discussed the possibly of teaming up again in Queens.
“I remember when he got the offer,” Tucker said. “The first thing that he texted me was, ‘Are we off to St. John’s together?’”
While neither player has released an official list of potential suitors, the Red Storm remain on both of their minds.
“We talk about it a lot,” Hyatt said. “He’s says it’s one of his top five. That’s one of my top three. St. John’s is a great school.”
The competition for Tucker, who averaged 17.8 points per game for the Crusaders last season, is stiff. The sweet-shooting, 6-foot-7 wing also has offers from Syracuse, Arizona, USC, Villanova, Oklahoma and Providence. He took unofficial visits to Syracuse and Indiana last week.
Tucker expects to have a final eight by August. Others have a head start on Mullin and his staff, who have only been on the job for a little over a year.
“Villanova and Oklahoma, they have been recruiting me since I was a freshman, ” Tucker said. “I never counted them out.”
Hyatt is an intriguing prospect for St. John’s, which he visited unofficially last week. The Red Storm got in earlier on him and the offers are just starting to roll in now for the versatile, 6-foot-6 forward, who has an interesting mix, from UMass, St. Louis and South Florida to La Salle, Yale, Iona and Manhattan.
His 3.9 GPA also makes him an enticing recruit for an Ivy League school. Hyatt averaged 15.7 points per game last season. He can already knock down the three and is working on improving his ability to play in the post. He is only scratching the surface of his ability.
“Once he realizes he’s just as good as anybody and plays with that desire and passion with something to prove, with that chip on his shoulder, then he is tough to deal with on the national level,” said Dana Dingle, his NY Lightning summer ball coach. “He’s one of those kids you have to hit him in the head and punch him in the mouth to get him mad. Then you will see him turn green.”
St. John’s is hoping the two decide to paint the town red together in the coming years.