St. John's
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

At Big East Media Day on Thursday, St. John’s Red Storm point guard Shamorie Ponds was named Preseason Player of the Year in the conference.


Ricky Keeler

If the preseason poll in the Big East is any indication, then the St. John’s Red Storm could be in for a big season in 2018-19. At Madison Square Garden on Thursday, the Red Storm were picked to finish fourth in the conference by the coaches and star guard Shamorie Ponds was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year.

Ponds was the first St. John’s player to get that honor since Malik Sealy shared the award with Alonzo Mourning in 1991-92. If the Red Storm are going to do big things this season, then Ponds is going to have to be the star that he was a year ago. Fortunately, he has help around him this season.

Justin Simon also received some accolades on Thursday as he was named to the All-Big East Second Team. With St. John’s having a smaller lineup this year compared to most years, expect Simon to be on the floor as a third guard along with Ponds and Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron.

As long as he stays healthy, Heron has a good chance to make it onto one of the All-Big East teams when the season is over. If you throw in a player like Marvin Clark II down low that can do a little bit of everything, you have the makings of a strong starting lineup.

It is no surprise that Villanova was named the favorite in the conference. They got eight of the 10 first-place votes by the coaches. However, this is a much different Wildcats team compared to the one that won the National Championship last year.

While St. John’s was not predicted to be the favorite nor did they receive a first-place vote, they should make the NCAA Tournament this year if they finish near the top of the league as long as they don’t have a terrible loss out of the conference.

The Big East doesn’t have the elite teams that it has had in recent years with Villanova being the only ranked team in the AP Poll (number nine). With that being said, it is more wide open than ever considering Marquette brings back two of their top scorers in Markus Howard and Sam Hauser.

So, while the Wildcats are the favorite to win the Big East again, there should be no surprise if someone else takes the conference crown whether it is St. John’s, Butler, or Providence. The Bulldogs got one of the other first-place votes along with Marquette with Kamar Baldwin returning to their backcourt this year.

There is reason for optimism in Queens involving St. John’s for the first time in a few years. The question now is whether or not Chris Mullin‘s squad can match the expectations of being one of the better teams in the conference.

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