Rick Pitino commends St. John's basketball core for returning as commits grow

The Red Storm head coach is thankful for his returning players as the Johnnies' roster grows
Mar 9, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's basketball guard Simeon Wilcher (7) celebrates on
Mar 9, 2024; New York, New York, USA; St. John's basketball guard Simeon Wilcher (7) celebrates on / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The hype surroudning the St. John's basketball team is growing quickly after landing two of the top players in the transfer portal within 28 hours of each other.

On Monday, it was Utah's Deivon Smith. On Tuesday, it was Seton Hall's Kadary Richmond.

And after what some were considering a quiet offseason for the Johnnies, now has them in position to be a preseason Top-25 team.

However, Rick Pitino knows that it couldn't be done without his returning core of players, Simeon Wilcher, RJ Luis, Brady Dunlap, Zuby Ejiofor, and Sadiku Ayo.

"The first thing I want to say is that me and everyone in the St John’s community is very appreciative to RJ, Zuby, Sim, Brady, and Diku for staying," the Hall of Famer posted on X.

"You are so crucial to our Success!"

The Red Storm are likely to start two of its returners next season, Luis and Ejiofor, while Wilcher is expected to play a critical role behind Smith and Richmond. It's unclear if he will start based on how St. John's fills its final vacant scholarship.

The expectation is that the Johnnies will add a power forward to its roster that has the capability of starting at the Big East level and pair him next to Smith, Richmond, Luis, and Ejiofor.

RJ Luis, battling shin splints throughout the season, started just ten games for the Red Storm last season while Zuby Ejifor only started one while playing a backup role to Joel Soriano.

Simeon Wilcher and Brady Dunlap also found their way into the starting lineup as freshmen, although it was brief. Wilcher started started two games as Dunlap got the nod for four, including a 10-point victory on the road against Villanova.

The anticipation is growing for the St. John's basketball season and the idea that the Red Storm will return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019.