Facing academic eligibility issues, St. John's point guard Rysheed Jordan made the decision to leave school and pursue a professional basketball career, the school announced Friday. The move ended the two-year career of a player who showed athletic gifts but struggled with difficult personal and family issues off the court.
"Playing professional basketball has always been a goal of mine," Jordan said in a statement released by the school. "I believe I am ready to take the next step in my basketball career and plan to work hard to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA . . . This decision was made with my family's best interests in mind."
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New St. John's coach Chris Mullin said last week during an appearance at Yankee Stadium that he was waiting for Jordan's grades to see what his status was academically. Mullin also said Jordan's academic eligibility is "out of my control." Knowing Jordan might not return, Mullin's staff recruited freshman point guard Marcus LoVett and Missouri State transfer Ron Mvouika and is pursuing Italian point guard prospect Federico Mussini.
"We support Rysheed and wish him well in his professional endeavors," Mullin said in the statement.
Jordan ranked ninth in Big East scoring last season with a 14.1 average and averaged 12.0 points and 3.1 assists in 60 games in his two seasons. He is not eligible to enter this year's NBA Draft but still could play overseas or in the NBA Developmental League.
Jordan was not allowed to talk to the media by former coach Steve Lavin, who said he wanted the Philadelphia native to focus on his academics. When St. John's made the NCAA Tournament, he took part in his first news conference under a rule requiring all players to be made available to the media.
Jordan took a one-game leave of absence last season after the death of his grandmother and returned only after a meeting with Lavin. He did not start another game because of a homophobic post on Twitter. As a freshman, he served a one-game suspension and sat out another game after the death of a family member and one other person in a shooting.
On Thursday, Jordan posted a tweet that read: "No regrets on the choices I made." On Friday, he tweeted, "I just wanna thank St. John's."