St. John's basketball: 3 transfer portal targets to replace Joel Soriano

The Red Storm are looking to vill the void of its graduating
Rutgers v Purdue; St. John's basketball transfer portal target Cliff Omoruyi
Rutgers v Purdue; St. John's basketball transfer portal target Cliff Omoruyi / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Rick Pitino's first order of business when he was named as the St. John's basketball head coach was to retain the team's All-Big East center, Joel Soriano.

Not only did Pitino keep Soriano on the roster, he immediately made him the captain of the team and wanted to build a roster around the New York native to compliment his skillset.

While Soriano didn't have the outstanding season many expected, and his numbers slightly dipped from a season ago, he was still one of the top big men in the Big East and an X-Factor for the Johnnies every time they took the floor.

If he played well, the team typically won.

However, the has come for the Johnnies to replace its graduating senior and Rick Pitino has already been looking for his next starting center in the transfer portal.

The Red Storm had been interested in St. Joseph's center Christ Essandoko, but he never got to Queens for a visit and committed to Providence before most teams could get him on campus.

St. John's will retain forward Zuby Ejiofor, who was Soriano's backup last season, but Pitino has said the plan this offseason will be to transition Ejiofor into more of a power forward instead of keeping him as a center.

It's time to look at three potential replacements for Joel Soriano on next year's St. John's basketball roster:

1. Cliff Omoruyi (Rutgers)

Cliff Omoruyi has been the top target for St. John's since its season ended and it declined a bid to the NIT.

Omoruyi checks all the boxes that Pitino wants in a starting center. He's an imposing figure who's quick, athletic, and strong with an incredible defensive pedigree. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game this season for a bad Scarlet Knights team while also posting 10.4 points and 8.3 rebounds.

He's been named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team in each of the last two seasons but it will not be easy trying to land him in Queens despite the Red Storm's major interest and connection to the program's general manager, Matt Abdelmassih, who was Omoruyi's agent at Rutgers before returning to Queens.

There is an expectation that St. John's will finally get Cliff Omoruyi to Queens for a visit within the next ten days.