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St. John’s Red Storm: L.J. Figueroa could spark offense in 2018-19

With L.J. Figueroa choosing the St. John’s Red Storm, the team has a player that could provide a much-needed offensive boost next season.

When you think back to last season, one of the problems the St. John’s Red Storm had was a lack of instant offense when Shamorie Ponds did not have his A game. L.J. Figueroa, the team’s newest recruit, could change that.

Figueroa, a JUCO All-American at Odessa College in Texas, reportedly gave the Johnnies a verbal commitment on Friday. He has since signed his National Letter of Intent.

Figueroa averaged 21.4 points per game and shot 48.2 percent from long distance in 2017-18. He will be immediately eligible, which is a big boost for the team while fellow transfers David Caraher and Eli Wright will have to sit out next season.

Back in November 2016, Figueroa signed with New Mexico State over some big-time schools such as Florida, Louisville, and Miami (Florida). However, he never played for the school as he de-committed in May once the Aggies let go of head coach Paul Weir.

Once Marcus LoVett’s season was over due to injury, St. John’s lost a major chunk of its three-point shooting. Last season, only two players on the team shot over 35 percent from downtown. Those two players were both transfers, Justin Simon and Marvin Clark II.

The Red Storm averaged 73.9 points per game in 2017-18, which was the second-lowest points per game of any team in the Big East. DePaul, at 71.9 points per game, was the worst.


In addition to his strong offensive ability, Figueroa brings good defense to the court with his ability to get steals using his six-foot-six height. His 1.2 steals per game were the most on the Odessa College Wranglers this past season.

Now it remains to be seen whether that translates over to D-I and the Big East, but Chris Mullin and his coaching staff like aggressiveness on steals from the backcourt.

While St. John’s does not have a scholarship left in 2018, they have built up some much-needed depth in their backcourt. It means that the team will rely on that more in 2018-19 while the frontcourt sorts itself out without Tariq Owens, who transferred to Texas Tech.

Now that the 2018-19 roster is mostly set, the Red Storm can mainly turn their attention to two things. One of them is trying to build up the Class of 2019 that will include the three players the Red Storm got to commit recently.

The other attention-seeking news is whether or not Shamorie Ponds decides he wants to go to the NBA, but that is out of the Red Storm’s control. If Ponds comes back, he now has other options to give the ball to for scoring and that should help him when it comes down to contributing in crunch time.

All in all, the signing of Figueroa is an intriguing one for next season because if he brings that instant offense St. John’s needs, the Red Storm will be fun to watch in Queens and at Madison Square Garden.

I graduated from St. John's University with a degree in sports management. I previously wrote about the Johnnies at Rumble In the Garden.