Hometown hype: St. John’s lands big-time local recruit

Former St. Raymond’s star Sidney Wilson opted to stay close to home, committing to St. John’s during a press conference on May 20.
Photo by Gina Palermo
By Laura Amato

Sidney Wilson felt like he’d finally come home.

The former St. Raymond’s star has faced an up-and-down year, transferring to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire and weighing a handful of options before, eventually, landing at St. John’s. Wilson verbally committed to the Red Storm in a press conference at Harlem’s Milbank Center Saturday night, opting to keep his talents close to home.

“I want to thank my coaches that got me to this point,” Wilson said during the press conference. “I’d also like to thank all the coaches that recruited me and got me to this point, all the schools that recruited me and helped me become a better person. Today, I’m announcing that I’ll be attending St. John’s University.”

Wilson, a consensus four-star player, who also had offers from UConn and Texas, initially planned to play a prep season and declare as a member of the 2018 class, but recently changed his decision. And, suddenly, the recruiting offers came pouring in.

St. John’s stayed in the mix throughout the year and Red Storm assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih made the trip to see him play at Brewster several times during the winter.

He was impressed by what he saw and, more important, Wilson was considering staying home. He took his official visit to St. John’s earlier this month and the weekend spent on campus proved to be the game-changer.

Wilson was home.

At his press conference, Wilson made sure to thank the people who helped get him to this point – coaches, friends, family – all of whom came out to hear his decision. There was, however, one person noticeably absent. Wilson’s mother, Paulette, died from a heart attack in March of 2015, but he knew she’d be proud of his decision.

“I’d to thank everybody that’s sitting right here next to me,” Wilson said. “I want to thank everybody that’s here. There’s an empty chair here and that’s for my mom.”

Wilson will join other local players Shamorie Ponds and Bashir Ahmed at St. John’s next year and will likely see his fair share of time on the court as well.

Standing 6 feet, 7 inches tall with a 7-foot wingspan, Wilson boasts a hybrid game that can score from just about anywhere on the court. His strength under the hoop could be a big boost for the Red Storm, who struggled to find consistency on the block last season and were regularly out-rebounded against Big East competition.

Wilson averaged 17.2 points and 5.3 rebounds at Brewster last season, shooting 60 percent from the field, and leading the team to a NEPSAC Class AAA championship and National Prep Championship.

“We got better today & that is all that matters,” Abdelmassih tweeted on Saturday.

It’s another step forward for a St. John’s program looking to return to national dominance as it gets ready for the third season under Chris Mullin. The former Red Storm star made a promise when he took over the team and, so far, he’s keeping it – drawing local talent and reminding them why there’s no better place for basketball than New York City.

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