Friday, September 4, 2009

St. John's Hosts Important Visitors

For anyone hoping to get an inside look at the St. John’s recruiting picture for the next couple of years, all they had to do was take a look at the Queens campus Wednesday.

The Red Storm hosted unofficial visits for five players yesterday, including members of the classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012. Five-star senior Doron Lamb was the headliner, followed by 2011 prospect Sterling Gibbs and rising sophomores Kyle AndersonTariq Carey and Aaron Bodie.

By all accounts, everyone enjoyed it.

“My visit was good,” Carey said on Thursday. “The coaches are great, I enjoy being around [head] coach [Norm] Roberts, [assistant coach Chris] Casey and coach Q (Fred Quartlebaum).”

“Tariq and Aaron enjoyed themselves and was kidding around with the coaches,” Newark Eastside (N.J.) head coach Troy Long said in an e-mail. “Tariq, in particular, has a great relationship with all of them and he thinks highly of the entire staff. They show great professionalism and their practice was intense.

“The entire team is strong,” he added. “They were a lot of individual stuff in the two hours we were there. This was their second time there so they know the campus, but this time students were around and that was excited to them.”

Similarly, Carey was impressed by the work ethic of the players and the energy of the practice.

“We watched the team practice, the practice was real intense!” he said. “Then I talked to the coaches, I shot around and that was about it.”

While Carey had an excellent visit to St. John’s, he’s not ready to anoint them – or any school – as the leader for his services.

“I’m still wide-open,” he said. “I don’t [have] anybody in front yet.”

Carey did say that he just picked up interest and/or offers from Wright State and Notre Dame, to go with his previous list of Villanova, Penn State, Oregon State, Seton Hall, SMU, George Mason, St. John’s, St. Joseph’s, Siena “and a couple others.”

Fellow 2012 prospect Kyle Anderson and his father had a similar opinion regarding the visit.

“Very enjoyable,” Kyle Anderson Sr. said in a text message.

Anderson Sr. also said that Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, George Washington and USC are beginning to show interest in the 6-7 point-forward.

“As far as offers, I only count in-person offers from head coaches,” he said. “That is GeorgetownSt. John’s, La Salle and St. Peter’s.”

Anderson Sr. added that visits to George Washington and Miami (Fl.) are coming up soon.

The lone 2011 performer who was on campus for his unofficial visit was Seton Hall Prep point guard Sterling Gibbs.

Gibbs, who took an unofficial visit to Pittsburgh last weekend, was pleasantly surprised at what he saw at St. John’s.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Me and my family were able to see the whole campus and talk to the coaches and watch practice.”

Going into the visit, Gibbs was unsure about St. John’s because he didn’t know about the entire campus and the on-campus activities.

However, after visiting, he realized his ideas about the school were incorrect.

“At first I didn’t think they had a campus life but after my visit, that changed,” Gibbs said, adding that the Red Storm moved up on his list.

“Also, having coach Oz Cross there is very big because he’s family,” he said of the former New York Panthers coach who is now an administrative assistant with St. John’s.

Despite being very impressed by his visit, Gibbs simply said he is looking harder at St. John’s– not a favorite or a frontrunner.

“They become a school that I’m looking at very closely because at this point I don’t have a favorite,” the 6-foot guard said.

Next on the docket for Gibbs is a trip to Maryland next weekend.

“I’m taking a visit to Maryland on the 11th for a football game and a tour around campus,” he said.

2010 five-star prospect Doron Lamb also visited St. John’s on Wednesday, but he was unable to be reached by NBE.

Although St. John’s is still slowly rebuilding its team in the always-tough Big East, the first step towards recruiting success is getting top targets to visit the campus.

The next – and more important – step is getting these local stars to sign on the dotted line.

Can Norm Roberts and co. do it? They might be able to get players on campus, but they need to seal the deal.

Either way, Wednesday was a step in the right direction for the Red Storm.

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