St. John’s has struggled to recruit top talent of late. The only Rivals.com top 100 high school prospects to choose the Johnnies in the last three classes are Chris Obekpa (No. 58 in 2012) and Rysheed Jordan (No. 20 in 2013).
Back when new coach Chris Mullin was leading the team — then nicknamed the Redmen — to the 1985 Final Four, the lineup was mostly comprised of local talent: Mullin (Xaverian), Walter Berry (Benjamin Franklin) and Mark Jackson (Bishop Loughlin) went to schools in the five boroughs; Mike Moses was from the city; Bill Wennington attended Long Island Lutheran and Willie Glass was an Atlantic City product before playing for Lou Carnesecca in Queens.
The world of college basketball and the state of recruiting have changed over 30 years, but the New York metropolitan area continues to produce elite prospects. This year’s top 100 prospects on Rivals lists Cheick Diallo (7), Isaiah Briscoe (10), Malachi Richardson (31), Jessie Govan (46), Steve Enoch (61), Moustapha Diagne (69) and Damon Wilson (94) as having attended local high schools. Diallo and Briscoe are projected first-round picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, according to nbadraft.net.
Mullin wisely wants to pursue such top local talent. Imagine if two top-100 high school seniors attended St. John’s every year. That’s the best path to success.