St. John’s basketball: Joel Soriano will return, named captain by Rick Pitino

St. John's basketball center Joel Soriano (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball center Joel Soriano (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

St. John’s basketball center Joel Soriano is returning to Queens for one more season. 

It was very telling that Joel Soriano was the only member of the St. John’s basketball team to attend Rick Pitino’s introductory press conference on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

In fact, he was the only player on the current roster invited to the event.

However, there was good reason for his attendance shortly after the Hall of Famer began speaking at the podium.

“I have a young man here who is going to be our captain,” Pitino said about five minutes into his acceptance speech.

“[Joel Soriano] is going to go to heights he thought he could never reach.”

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The St. John’s center registered 25 double-double’s last season and averaged a team-high 15.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and can return for one final season because of the year impacted by COVID-19.

Joel Soriano was bullish on returning to St. John’s following the team’s overtime loss to Marquette in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament and said he would love a return to Queens but only if Mike Anderson would return as the head coach.

Later, he explained that was his emotions taking over minutes after the final buzzer sounded.

St. John’s basketball captain sold on new regime

Joel Soriano and Rick Pitino met on Monday night, just hours after it was announced the 70-year old would become the head coach of the Red Storm and instantly connected.

“He wants to win. He has this love for the game that he can’t even explain,” Soriano explained of his new head coach.

There have been no determinations on which players, if any, will return to the Red Storm alongside of Soriano but Pitino mentioned the leadership qualities and work ethic of the Fordham transfer that stood out to him and knew he would make a good fit in the new scheme.

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“I love St. John’s,” Soriano said. “The fans here, the alumni, the people that work at the school, all the people here, they always give me so much love and support.”

“I want to give back, my first two years haven’t gone the way I wanted to go. This year I want to make it count. I want to give back and be remembered for something great here.”

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