Rick Pitino has been among the most active coaches in college basketball since accepting the job as St. John’s basketball coach. In just two months he has secured two big recruits and landed 10 transfers, building a transfer class that was ranked fourth in the nation by 247Sports.
Of the 10 transfers brought in by St. John’s, six are ranked by 247 Sports as four-star players, including former Ivy League Player of the Year Jordan Dingle, former UCONN Huskies forward Naheim Alleyne, former Kansas forward Zuby Ejiofor, and former UMASS guard RJ Luis.
Despite landing players from bigger programs, St. John’s biggest addition may have been Dingle, a point guard who previously played at the University of Pennsylvania and had offers from big-name schools like Oregon, UCLA, and Texas.
A Valley Stream, N.Y. native, Jordan Dingle was named the Ivy League Player of the Year last season after finishing with 23.4 points and 3.6 assists per game. His 23.4 points per game made him the nation’s second-leading scorer and he also shot 46.4% from the field, and 35.6% from beyond the arc.
That three-point shooting is crucial for St. John’s and has been a clear priority throughout the offseason. It’s not a surprise considering St. John’s was 232nd in the nation in 3-point shooting last year, making only 33.1% of their three-point shots and attempting only 17.7 a game, which was 322nd in the nation.
In addition to Dingle, St. John’s added other players who can knock down shots from deep like Nahiem Alleyne (a career 37% three-point shooter), Iona transfer Daniss Jenkins (36.1% from three), UMASS transfer RJ Luis (34.8% from three), and VMI graduate transfer Sean Conway, who shot 37.8% from three this year.
In addition to the tremendous transfer class, St. John’s has also been active on the recruiting circuit, securing a commitment from top-150 prospect Brady Dunlap, who had been committed to Notre Dame before Mike Brey’s departure.
Then, on Tuesday night, St. John’s received a verbal commitment from 2024 recruit Greek guard Lefteris Liotopoulos of DEKA Academy. This year for DEKA, Liotopoulos averaged 23.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.5 steals, and shot 36% from beyond the arc.
Liotopoulos is a 6’5″ shooting guard who competes in a league with much older players and has repeatedly proved his mettle. As a result, he was being recruited by big basketball schools like Virginia, Stanford, and Princeton, but chose St. John’s even though he may have had more offers if he waiting until after his season was over.
“I understand the fact that I would probably get more offers in the next few months, but it would be hard for me to refuse Rick Pitino’s offer because he’s a legend in basketball,” the 17-year-old told The NY Post. “He’s a Hall of Fame coach. I was watching him coach Panathinaikos. He’s a great coach, a very successful coach.”
“In the last two months, he has been calling me and watching my games. I’m very honored for this.”
The allure of playing for a legend like Pitino has been seen across all of the moves St. John’s has made this offseason. There is no doubt that they now have the talent to compete for an NCAA Tournament appearance. The next step is seeing how quickly all these new pieces can gel on the court.