St. John’s is off to a 10-2 start and the transfer additions over the last couple seasons have played a big role in that success.
When you look at college basketball, recruiting plays a big part in a team’s success or failure. But, in recent years, it’s the transfers that a team picks up that can play a factor. While they usually have to skip a season, they are able to practice with the team and make their impact the following season.
For St. John’s, a lot of the attention on their 10-2 start is going to be about Shamorie Ponds and how he’s one of the best point guards in the Big East. With that being said, a lot of this team’s success has to be credited to the transfer additions of guard Justin Simon along with forwards Marvin Clark II and Tariq Owens.
Back at Big East Media Day in October, I had the chance to talk to Amar Alibegovic about what to expect from Simon and Clark II heading into this year. Here’s what he had to say:
“They can expect a lot. They are going to be like a game changer for us. Having Shamorie, Marcus [LoVett], then Justin helping them out will make things easier for all three of them. Then, someone like Marvin who can pretty much do everything on the court.”
First, let’s start with Owens. While Owens did play last year, he did transfer from Tennessee after the 2014-15 season, so he fits into this discussion. With Marcus LoVett out due to a knee injury, Owens has been in the starting lineup and has flourished in that role.
Over the last five games, Owens has scored double-digit points in three games (17 against Arizona State), but he is more well-known for his blocked shots. He has at least three blocks in seven straight games and is fifth in the entire country in blocks per game as of December 21 (3.7). He is already 25 blocks behind his entire total from last season (69).
Staying in the frontcourt, Clark II, who came from Michigan State, has been able to do everything for this team when he’s on the floor. He’s averaging ten points per game despite taking fewer than ten shots in three of his last five games.
While Clark II might not take many shots, he is able to hit them when they count. He is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc (20-for-40) and is about a 91 percent free throw shooter. If he can avoid foul trouble in Big East play (3.3 fouls per game), he is a player that might stand out more in the conference.
Finally, Simon, who came over from Arizona, has become a triple-double watch on a nightly basis. In addition to averaging in double-figures scoring-wise, he leads the team in rebounding (8.2 per game), has the second most steals (29), and the second most blocks (12).
Big East play will be a big test for St. John’s as they try to make their push towards the NCAA Tournament. It will be interesting to see how these players gel when LoVett comes back. But, for now, the transfers have provided St. John’s fans with plenty of excitement and expectations heading into conference play next week.