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Young Johnnies take Queens stage

Head coach Steve Lavin of the St. John's

Head coach Steve Lavin of the St. John's Red Storm talks with Phil Greene. (Getty) Credit: Head coach Steve Lavin of the St. John's Red Storm talks with Phil Greene. (Getty)

With a starting lineup that may include three sophomores and two freshmen, St. John's basketball will roll out one of the youngest teams in the country in its opener Tuesday against Detroit.

But compared to last year, the team is one full of experience and depth.

After last year's squad stumbled to a 13-19 record with just a six-man rotation and an all-freshman starting lineup, this year's team welcomes back coach Steve Lavin - who missed all but four games last year recovering from prostate cancer - and a touted recruiting class headlined by LeBron James' buddy JaKarr Sampson.

Preseason All-Big East guard D'Angelo Harrison leads the way for the Red Storm, after setting a school record with 544 points as a freshman, while the addition of Sampson, big man Chris Obekpa and recruiting sleeper Christian Jones will give the Johnnies the front-line depth they lacked last year.

But eligibility issues continue to haunt Lavin. Three players were ruled ineligible going into last season, and this year the status of two newcomers is still in the air. JuCo transfers Marco Bourgault and Orlando Sanchez haven't suited up in any exhibition games while awaiting confirmation of amateur status by the NCAA.

With all of the question marks surrounding their inexperience, the Johnnies were picked to finish 10th in the Big East coaches poll. But if everything clicks, they have the talent to be dancing come March.

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