St. John’s season opener against Mercer is just two weeks away and the Red Storm finds itself in a bit of limbo.
The Red Storm is awaiting NCAA rulings on a pair of waiver requests that would clear two key players – 6-3 point guard Rasheem Dunn and 6-9 forward Ian Steere – to begin play when the season starts on Nov. 6. Each could be an impact player in his own right and both would likely crack the starting lineup.
St. John’s AD Mike Cragg said the school is “hopeful” and “made strong cases” in both waiver applications. He said it is likely that the Storm will have answers before the season opener.
Dunn sat out all of last season at Cleveland State under NCAA transfer rules and the hope is the association will not make him sit a second year in a row, even though he is in his second transfer. In 2017-18 at St. Francis Brooklyn, he led the team in scoring average (15.6) and assists (2.3).
Steere played in one game last season at North Carolina State before transferring. He was highly sought out of high school and at the end of his recruiting process chose the Wolfpack over Creighton. Regardless of whether his waiver is accepted, he will play in the second semester.
Greg Williams Jr., a 6-3 sophomore who averaged 8.4 minutes last season, would probably play the point if Dunn cannot, but his status is questionable. He didn’t practice for two months because of a lumbar issue; he participated in Tuesday’s practice segment that was open to the media. Nick Rutherford, a 6-3 grad transfer from Monmouth, could be part of a committee that handles point guard responsibilities.
“Well, you’ve got to have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, I guess,” first-year coach Mike Anderson said.
Dunn said that sitting out last season was hard, but that he is in a situation he cannot control.
“I am trying to be the best version of myself while I wait,” said Dunn, who won a PSAL championship with Jefferson High School in Brooklyn playing alongside former Storm star Shamorie Ponds. “Life is about being patient and I will be.”
And he covets the chance to play point guard in the Big East because “I’m from Brooklyn . . . and I think I can live up to the hype,” he said.
Steere played only five minutes in his one game at N.C. State before the transfer and had four points and four rebounds against Mount St. Mary’s (Maryland). He said that “those [five] minutes weren’t the reason I transferred – a lot of people think that – it wasn’t a factor whether I played; It wasn’t the right fit for me.”
“I am not trying to let this waiver situation affect me and want to just focus on my game and improving,” Steere said. “I try to stay up to date with it, but not let it take over my mind.”
As for the state of the team as it goes into Saturday’s closed scrimmage against Temple and next Wednesday’s exhibition game against Queens College, Anderson said he feels good about the team’s conditioning to play his full-court pressure defense. Asked about a starting five beyond Mustapha Heron and LJ Figueroa, he replied “I have no starters yet.”
“We feel like we put our best foot forward on behalf of [Dunn and Steere],” Cragg said. “We’re hopeful – I think that’s the best word.”
Surgery for McGriff
Freshman guard John McGriff will have season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday.