New York has always delivered for Rick Pitino when it comes to college basketball. From Long Island’s Billy Donovan at Providence to city products Jamal Mashburn at Kentucky and Russ Smith at Louisville, the Hall of Fame coach has landed top players from the area. And there’s no reason it should be different now that he is the newly minted coach at St. John’s.
Pitino and his staff went recruiting in the area Wednesday, their first day on the job, but the effort is going to take them to all corners of the country.
“We’re going to recruit New York and recruit New Jersey, but we’re also going to recruit all over California, too . . . It’s a big country,” Pitino said in a telephone interview Wednesday night.
“We’re going to get the best players to help us turn this around and we’re not going to look at geographics. We’d love to get New York players, love to get them . . . but we’ll go wherever the right players are.”
Pitino has said few current Red Storm players will be on the roster next season.
Sophomore O’Mar Stanley put his name in the NCAA transfer portal on Thursday. Stanley averaged 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in 31 games, including 18 starts. He joins Rafael Pinzon in the portal.
Stanley thanked former coach Mike Anderson, the St. John’s staff and friends in a social media post and said: “I have decided to enter the transfer portal to begin reopening my recruitment.”
Pitino will be on the road recruiting in the next few days. On Saturday he will be at the state Federation tournament, where Long Island Lutheran and Catholic champion Stepinac are playing. On Monday he will recruit in Boston.
“The Garden is special to people from New York, but actually, and this is a little tough to fathom, the farther you go away from New York, the more a kid is interested,” Pitino said.
To that end, Pitino hit social media during the NCAA East Regional Thursday night and posted: “Nothing like watching college basketball at the mecca, Madison Square Garden. Can you imagine getting to play all of your home games there?!”
Pitino wants to play as many games at the Garden as possible. On Wednesday, St. John's AD Mike Cragg met with Garden officials about possible available dates and said, “We have five or six non-conference games that we can [schedule].”
According to a published report Thursday, St. John’s made an offer to 6-6 junior guard Vyctorius Miller from Compass Prep (Arizona).
Asked about when St. John’s might see declarations from players in the portal to St. John’s, Pitino replied: “Maybe two or three weeks.”