Iona star guard Walter Clayton Jr. has decided not to follow coach Rick Pitino from the New Rochelle school to St. John’s. The 6-2 Floridian, who was the MAAC Player of the Year this season for the Gaels, announced he would transfer to the University of Florida in a social media post on Tuesday afternoon.
Clayton only visited with the Gators and the Red Storm before choosing his next destination. His post simply read “COMMITTED” with an alligator emoji and the social media handle of the Florida men’s basketball program. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Clayton was seen as a high-major recruit in football — not basketball — when Pitino plucked him out of Lake Wales (Fla.) Bartow High for Iona. In two seasons, he developed into a performer capable of contributing at every level. This past season, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists as Iona won the MAAC championship and reached the NCAA Tournament. His 95.3% free-throw shooting led the nation.
Along with Hofstra’s Aaron Estrada and the Storm’s Joel Soriano, Jenkins is considered one of the favorites for the Haggerty Award, annually presented to the metro area’s top collegiate player.
Daniss Jenkins, Clayton’s backcourt mate with the Gaels, also visited St. John’s as a potential transfer destination. Jenkins has one year of eligibility left.
There are eight members of the 2022-23 Red Storm who have entered the NCAA transfer portal — with junior Posh Alexander saying he has not ruled out a return — and three who remain in the fold: the 6-11 Soriano, 6-8 Drissa Traore and 7-1 Mohamed Keita. St. John’s is reportedly involved with a number of potential transfers and top high school players. Among the potential transfer targets, Pitino has visited with 6-6 Chris Ledlum of Harvard and three-point specialist Nicolas Timberlake of Towson.
Pitino bringing entire Iona coaching staff
St. John’s announced that Pitino’s entire Iona coaching and support staff — associate head coach Steve Masiello, assistant coach Ricky Johns, director of player personnel Taliek Brown, special assistant Bob Walsh, basketball operations director Jeff Martin and video coordinator Brandon Irving — will be on his staff with the Red Storm. Pitino also is retaining Van Macon as an assistant coach and Brandon Kuhn as strength and conditioning coach.