Highly recruited freshman guard Rysheed Jordan has arrived at St. John's, and coach Steve Lavin has instituted his own set of "Jordan Rules." Rule No. 1 is that Jordan wasn't allowed to talk on Media Day Thursday, but the plan is for him to be "all-access" about a week before the Red Storm begins Big East play in January.
The "Jordan Rules" famously was used to describe the defensive strategies the Detroit Pistons tried to control Bulls great Michael Jordan. In this case, Lavin's strategy is intended to help his prize recruit make the transition to big-time college basketball.
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"He's in a good place right now," Lavin said, describing Jordan's adjustment after a celebrated high school career at Roberts Vaux in North Philadelphia, where he was ranked as high as the No. 3 point guard in the country.
"He went through some tough times on a personal level . . . He's going to be central to what we do. The responsibility is on me to bring him along at the right and appropriate rate. Right now, I want to keep him concentrating on his studies and developing as a basketball player."
Jordan's mother currently is undergoing treatment for a heart condition, and as the eldest of her seven children, his presence is missed at home. Jordan addressed the family issue in a statement released by St. John's.
"My mom cares for my four brothers and two sisters," Jordan said. "I'm the oldest of all of them. It took a lot out of my day. You have to pick them up from school, help them out with their homework while mom's at work, feed them, then at night time, wash them, put them to bed, then it's time for school the next morning."
Once he's comfortable, Jordan likely will find playing college basketball the easiest part of his life to manage. Lavin said the 6-4 guard passes like former Stanford star Brevin Knight and plays defense like Hall of Famer Gary Payton. Using a more contemporary analogy, transfer Max Hooper compared Jordan's vision to Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
"He has a perfect sense for when he should shoot and when he should be a playmaker," Hooper said of Jordan.
Combine Jordan with a lineup that includes Big East rookie of the year JaKarr Sampson, the return of leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison from a season-ending suspension for behavior issues and the additions of big man Orlando Sanchez and zone-busting shooter Hooper, and Lavin believes his whole program is in a good place with the potential to "do something special in March."
The big question is team chemistry and how it will work with so many talented players competing for limited playing time. But talent recognizes talent. As Sampson said of Jordan, "He fits perfectly. He's the real deal."