St. John’s basketball team, which is having a strong season, holds meet-and-greet in Fresh Meadows

Brady Dunlap and Naheim Alleyne signing basketballs for the fans
Photo by Jerry Kohn

The St. John’s men’s basketball team took their game to Applebee’s in Fresh Meadows last week for a meet and greet with their fans and the community.

The team, based in Jamaica, Queens, often reaches out to residents in surrounding Queens neighborhoods to get involved in charitable events, outreach activities, community get-togethers and fundraisers.

Last week’s event comes at a time when the St John’s Redstorm basketball team is the talk of New York City. Led by center Joel Soriano (a native of Yonkers, NY) and 10 new transfers from around the country, the team has brought NYC college basketball back to competitiveness. In addition, St John’s was able to recruit Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to run the team. Coach Pitino, born in New York City and raised on Long Island, has taken his prior teams to the NCAA Final Four on four different occasions and has won two national Championships.

Joel Soriano, Jordan dingle, Drissa Traore and Chris Ludlum. Photo by Jerry Kohn

In an evening filled with smiling faces, the fans in attendance, plus a room full of unknowing diners, got to meet the players, get autographs, take selfies and talk to the players one-on-one. Basketball t-shirts were given out to the youngsters who came to meet their heroes. A raffle was held to give away basketballs signed by the entire team. The Applebee’s staff provided appetizers and soft drinks to the fans in attendance.

As basketball is the premiere sport of NYC—taking nothing more than a hoop, a ball and two players to start a game—the young kids surrounded the senior classmen and were interested in how these players reached the pinnacle of college ball and how they too could reach that level. The excitement on their faces as the players showed the kids their shooting styles and talked about their journeys was priceless.

(Left to right) RJ Lewis and Joel Soriano. Photo by Jerry Kohn

This is a team that comes across as mature and friendly with one goal in mind – being the best they can be.  Given that this team was constructed less than a year ago, it speaks to the dedication of St John’s staff and coaches. The team understands that it represents St John’s University, the borough of Queens and works hard to make good on its commitment.

The team is putting together its best season in years. The team’s home court is Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St John’s (the corner of Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway) and the tickets are affordable. All the seats are close to the court, and the atmosphere is electric.

St John’s University is home to 17 Division One sports programs. The school attracts and recruits top student athletes locally from Queens and New York City, plus it reaches out across the country and internationally for a truly diverse community. The school has a world class soccer and baseball diamond on the Jamaica Queens campus as well.