Rysheed Jordan rejoined the St. John's basketball team on Monday. It was an abrupt ending to the "indefinite leave of absence" the school announced Friday night but just in time for the No. 24 Red Storm's biggest game of the season, against No. 8 Villanova Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
In contrast with the original statement, which was vague about the reason for Jordan's absence, the school issued an update explaining that the sophomore guard missed Saturday's home loss to Butler to be with his family in Philadelphia after the death of his grandmother, Roslyn "Bootsie" Walker.
Her funeral is on Thursday, but coach Steve Lavin said he met one-on-one with Jordan at St. John's to express his support and get him "calibrated" correctly to help the Red Storm (11-3, 0-2) as it tries to avoid digging an early hole in the Big East standings against the Wildcats (13-1, 1-1).
Lavin said no discipline was involved in Jordan's decision to leave the team and expressed surprise at questions about whether Jordan was upset about the sixth-man role he played in his last seven games.
"Wow," Lavin said. "Let me put it this way. He had a very difficult week where he lost a loved one. There's going to be a funeral Thursday, and we're trying to show as much support as we can and get ready for Villanova."
The coach said he lacked information about Jordan's absence initially because he knew it was a family matter and didn't want to pry. Lavin compared it to a situation last season in which Jordan's aunt died in a Philadelphia shooting. He tried to play against Xavier but fared poorly, and after attending the funeral, he asked to sit out the next game.
Jordan's Red Storm teammates were surprised by his departure last week. D'Angelo Harrison and Phil Greene said they sent text messages to Jordan but received no response.
Harrison credited Lavin for convincing Jordan to return, saying, "Lav did a good job. I'm pretty sure that the meeting everybody had went well. I'm just glad he's back and I'm looking forward to [Villanova]."
Before practice on Monday, Harrison spoke with Jordan, welcomed him back and heard his explanation. But there's no mistaking the disappointment of Jordan's teammates that he wasn't on hand for the Butler game.
"He knows he let us down," Harrison said. "We love that guy to death. He's been around us almost like older brothers. I was like, 'Don't worry about it. It's in the past. You're here now, and let's just get focused on Villanova.' "