Former St. John’s basketball star sees NCAA Tournament run end

Former St. John's basketball standout LJ Figueroa (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Former St. John's basketball standout LJ Figueroa (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Former St. John’s basketball star LJ Figueroa saw his NCAA Tournament end in the Sweet 16. 

After a chaotic season, former St. John’s basketball star LJ Figueroa saw his NCAA Tournament run come to an end in the Sweet 16.

Figueroa came to St. John’s as a sophomore from Odessa Junior College (TX) and remained in Queens for two seasons before entering the 2020 NBA Draft, withdrawing his name, and opting to enter the transfer portal.

The Lawrence, Massachusetts native entered the transfer portal after his sophomore season following the departure of head coach Chris Mullin, who Figueroa originally committed to play for, and remained with the Johnnies for one season with Mike Anderson.

ALSO READ: St. John’s loses redshirt freshman John McGriff via transfer

LJ Figueroa averaged 14.4 points per game over his two seasons in Queens, but struggled as the top option in the offense, shooting just 37.9-percent as a junior compared to 51.3-percent as a sophomore.

Landing in Eugene, Oregon to play for the Ducks and head coach Dana Altman, Figueroa was not cleared to play until the second game of the season after the NCAA passed a blanket waiver for all transfers to be immediately eligible.

Playing in 26 games this season, starting 21, Figueroa averaged 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 46.7-percent from the floor and 37.7-percent from three-point range.

How did the former St. John’s basketball star fare in the NCAA Tournament?

As the Oregon Ducks earned an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed, Figueroa was playing in his second Big Dance as he made his inaugural trip to March Madness with the Johnnies as St. John’s fell in the First Four to Arizona State in 2019.

Figueroa posted 19 points and 10 rebounds in the Red Storm’s loss in the tournament.

However, the 6-foot-6 wing continued his impressive play in the postseason after Oregon got an automatic bid into the Round of 32 after its first round opponent, VCU, had to forfeit because of COVID-19 issues.

ALSO READ: St. John’s lands Vermont transfer guard Stef Smith

Playing No. 2 seed Iowa in the second round, Figueroa was a major force in the hot shooting performance of the Ducks, ending with 21 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting and 5-of-9 shooting from three-point range in the 95-80 victory.

The hot shooting was unsustainable from the first weekend to the second weekend as Figueroa was cold in the Sweet 16 against Pac-12 rival USC.

Against the Trojans, LJ Figueroa only added four points on 2-of-12 shooting, missing all four of his three-point attempts while committing three fouls and four turnovers in the 82-68 loss.

Seniors are allowed to return to its school for an extra year of eligibility but LJ Figueroa will most likely leave Oregon and try and make it as a professional basketball player, whether that be in the NBA or overseas.

Next. St. John’s Julian Champagnie testing NBA Draft waters. dark