St. John’s basketball: Rick Pitino meets with 5-star Mackenzie Mgbako

St. John's basketball target Mackenzie Mgbako (Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball target Mackenzie Mgbako (Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s basketball head coach Rick Pitino is eyeing a massive 5-star recruit. 

It did not take long for the St. John’s basketball program to reach out to 5-star prospect Mackenzie Mgbako after he decommitted Duke and Rick Pitino landed a visit with the New Jersey native on Monday.

Andrew Slater of Cerebo Sports was first to report the visit.

Mgbako requested his release from his National Letter of Intent at Duke shortly after the ACC Freshman of the Year, Kyle Filipowkski, announced he would be returning to the Blue Devils for his sophomore season.

The Roselle Catholic (NJ) standout reportedly had over 50 calls from schools interested in him after he went back on the open market.

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Listed at 6-foot-8, Mgbako is ranked as the No. 7 player in the Class of 2023, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings, and the No. 2 power forward in the county.

He was also named as a McDonald’s All-American and shined for Team World at the Nike Hoop Summit with 22 points.

St. John’s basketball still looking for coveted high school commitment

St. John’s does not have a commitment from a high school recruit since the hiring of Rick Pitino but has landed four players from the transfer portal; Iona’s Daniss Jenkins and Cruz Davis, UConn’s Nahiem Alleyne, and Virginia Military Institute’s Sean Conway.

The Red Storm, under Mike Anderson, had three players in its recruiting class of four-star forward Brandon Gardner, junior college All-American Yaxel Lendeborg, and unranked guard Harrison Reede but all three players reopened their recruitments shortly after the hiring of Pitino.

ALSO READ: St. John’s basketball adds UConn champion Nahiem Alleyne

There have been no other reported visits with other schools for Mackenzie Mgbako but many have speculated that Louisville or the NBA G-League are the most likely landing spots for the former Duke signee.

Nolan Smith, Louisville’s associate head coach, was one of the leader recruiters at Duke for Mgbako before he left Durham for the Cardinals.

However, Rick Pitino has made his pitch and it remains very significant that the Red Storm remain in the race for the services of the 5-star prospect.

St. John’s lands another Iona transfer in Cruz Davis. dark. Next