Photo courtesy Vincent Dusovic
Point guard D’Angelo Harrison will lead a talented, but inexperienced St. John’s team.
By Joseph Staszewski

The next few weeks marks a new beginning for the St. John’s University men’s basketball team and star guard D’Angelo Harrison.

The standout junior officially rejoins the Red Storm lineup as the club embarks on a European Tour in Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Sorrento, Italy that includes five games against professional teams from Aug. 19 to Sept. 1.

Harrison, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, was suspended for the remainder of the season in March for a reported pattern of conduct that was viewed as detrimental to the team, including his emotional on-court personality. He thinks he has grown from his time off the court.

“It definitely hurt,” Harrison said at a press conference last week. “I wanted to play for the team and staff, but I told them right then and there that I wanted to stay, and I’m back now just looking forward to having a great season with these guys.”

He talked about feeling like a different person after taking steps to better himself personally, such as attending a wellness program in Houston with former NBA guard John Lucas. Red Storm Coach Steve Lavin said Harrison met all the criteria that was set for him to return to the active roster.

“To D’Angelo’s credit he has gone right down the list and checked them all off,” Lavin said. “Now the key is, and what is most important, is sustaining this positive momentum through April. To this point every indication is Dee will have an outstanding junior year and help us win.”

The 6-foot-3 guard is just one piece of a talented St. John’s team that returns the bulk of its roster from last season’s NIT squad, including Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson and shot-blocking specialist Chris Obekpa.

The Red Storm heads overseas shorthanded with injuries to Felix Balamou, prized freshman recruit Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene, Max Hooper and Jamal Branch. Jordan has been suffering from back spasms, and Greene and Balamou will likely not see the court in Europe. Jordan wished he wasn’t missing out on an early opportunity to play with his new teammates.

“It’s been a good preseason for me but I’m a little banged up right now,” the Philadelphia product said. “Obviously I want to be able to play, but as Coach [Lavin] and the staff told me it’s my job to get healthy right now and ready for our season.”

The NCAA allows men’s basketball teams one foreign trip every four years and 10 practices prior to the team’s departure. The last international trip the Red Storm took was in August 2009, when the squad traveled to Canada for four days. St. John’s hopes this one is the start of a standout season that gets off on the right foot with a re-energized Harrison back.

“He came back a different person, a better person and better basketball player,” Sampson said.

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