Hawks host two Illinois seniors on officials

St. Joe's is coming off a banner year. The Hawks won the Atlantic 10 tournament, beat Cincinnati in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, and won the second most games in school history. Now, with a significant chunk of this year's roster set to leave, Phil Martelli's eyes turn to the future. It begins today, when two high school seniors begin official visits to Hawk Hill.

This year's Saint Joseph's team went 28-8, won the Atlantic 10 tournament for the second time in three years, won their opening round tournament game against Cincinnati, and took 1-seed Oregon down the wire with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. It was a year that far surpassed all expectations. And that was due in large part to three players, DeAndre Bembry, Isaiah Miles, and Aaron Brown, that could all be gone next year.

Isaiah Miles, Aaron Brown, and Papa Ndao are all set to graduate from Saint Joseph's in May. Junior Atlantic 10 Player of the Year DeAndre Bembry has a year of eligibility remaining, but will likely, at the least, test the NBA waters this spring. It's entirely feasible that he bolts for the NBA following the terrific season that he had on Hawk Hill. Miles, Bembry, Brown, and Ndao combined to score 50.8 of Saint Joseph's 77 points per game this year. How exactly do you go about replicating those numbers?

If Bembry does leave for the NBA, all hope is not lost. Sophomore point guard Shavar Newkirk and freshman forward Pierfrancesco Oliva both started this year and would likely return to those roles next year. Freshman guard Lamarr Kimble really came on at the end of the year, dishing out nine assists in the A10 title game against VCU then playing a sensational second half against Oregon in the tournament. Sophomore wing James Demery would likely return to his starting role that he enjoyed as a freshman before becoming one of the league's best 6th men this year. Freshmen Chris Clover and Markell Lodge will likely play significant roles next year as well after being buried on the bench this year.

St. Joe's will still need to add depth and possibly upgrade at several positions still though. The Hawks have two 2016 recruits already signed in 6'7 wing Charles Brown, from St. Thomas More (CT), and 6'7 forward Gerald Blount, from Pomfret School (CT). Brown could see significant minutes as a freshman, especially if Bembry leaves, due to his shooting ability, fantastic length, and defensive ability on the perimeter. Blount likely projects more as a utility bench player, one who will rebound, fight in the paint, and provide bench depth, at least early on in his college career.

That brings us to today, when the Hawk coaching staff will begin official visits with two of their most sought-after remaining 2016 recruits. Nick Robinson, who described himself as a 6'6, 200-pound wing to me, comes from Kenwood (IL) in Chicago. Robinson begins his official to Hawk Hill Monday, and then trips to Cal next week. Southern Illinois, Saint Louis, De Paul, and several others are also involved with the hyper-athletic Chicago Public League product.

While Robinson hails from the Windy City, 6'7 stretch four Lorenzo Edwards is from the Chicago suburbs, having attended Lake Forest High School. Robinson's father was a first-round pick out of De Paul and played 12 years in the NBA. Edwards, who I have heard compared favorably to Saint Bonaventure's Dion Wright, can play both inside and out, with shooting ability out to three. Saint Joseph's had tremendous success this year playing 6'7 senior Isaiah Miles at one of the forward positions. The Atlantic 10's Most Improved Player was a match-up nightmare due to his shooting ability. While Edwards isn't the shooter that Miles was as a senior, he has that ability to stretch a defense and open up driving lanes for the likes of Kimble, Newkirk, and Demery.

If DeAndre Bembry returns for his senior year, St. Joe's has two 2016 scholarships remaining. So the Hawk coaching staff could absolutely take both Nick Robinson and Lorenzo Edwards, and would likely love to, if they could this week. If Bembry goes, that opens up another scholarship, and one that could be used theoretically on 6'10 Scotland Prep Institute (PA) post Cheickna Dembele or a transfer. The coaching staff has quite a bit of flexibility.

I will have updates on both Windy City seniors when their visits wrap up on Wednesday, along with any other offseason news throughout the course of the week. Keep it locked here.

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