With Anthony Longpre's commitment to the Hawks Tuesday night, St. Joe's is in very good shape with their front court moving forward. When Taylor Funk and Anthony Longpre are freshmen, Pierfrancesco Oliva will be a junior, as will Markell Lodge. Lorenzo Edwards and Gerald Blount will be sophomores. Jai Williams will be a senior. Lodge fits the bill as your athletic, physical, freak-of-nature, jump-out-of-the-gym undersized forward. Then you have players in Funk, Longpre, Oliva, and Edwards that are capable of spacing the floor with their shooting ability. Blount, like Jai, is more of a true post who will play predominately in the paint.
St. Joe's had incredible, historic success in 2015-2016 playing a front court of Oliva, Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, and then also throwing Aaron Brown at times into the front court. There wasn't a true "five man" last year who played significant minutes. It appears as if the coaching staff is willing to replicate that. Lorenzo Edwards is a 6'7 shooting forward who is also able to bang down low a bit. Taylor Funk is much more a perimeter player at 6'8 than a post. Anthony Longpre could very well play the "five" for the Hawks at a legitimate 6'9, but he's a skilled 6'9, capable of shooting the three, capable of handling the rock, and capable of passing it. The SJU front court is a versatile one moving forward, with interchangeable parts. Lots of floor-spacing. Lots of versatility.
During the 2016 Adidas Summer Championship, Anthony Longpre played seven games with Brookwood Elite. In just over 18 minutes per game, he averaged 9 points and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 16-20 from the free-throw line, good for 80%. He shot a respectable 7-19 (37%) from three. I can absolutely see lineups in the future where Longpre is at the five while a Taylor Funk or Lorenzo Edwards is at the four. That's a lineup that would be eerily reminiscent, in theory at least, of Papa Ndao and Isaiah Miles. Longpre is a more physical player than Ndao, a better screener, and a better passer. Then you would have Taylor Funk, who again in theory, could develop into that knock-down shooter that Isaiah Miles was as a senior.
St. Joe's locked down their front court of the future, or at least much of it, in 2017. As a result, look for the Hawks to spend much of their time and energy in 2018 on the perimeter. I think a point guard and then a two-guard, or wing, will be what the coaching staff focuses on, while also probably looking for one post in the class.
Some of the hot names in 2018 include 6'5 St. Benedict's (NJ) guard Matthue Cotton, 6'4 Pope John XXIII (NJ) guard Atiba Taylor, 5'9 Georgetown Prep (DC) point guard Jared Bynum, 6'2 McDonough (MD) combo guard Noah Locke, 6'3 Calvert Hall (MD) shooting guard Brendan Adams, 6'3 Immaculate Conception (NJ) point guard Jalen Carey, and 6-foot St. John College (MD) point guard Tre Wood. All of those players have offers. If you include small forwards, the Hawk coaching staff has somewhere in the vicinity of 20 offers out in 2018. And many of them are players with star power. It all now becomes whether or not they can lock up one or two in the coming year.
By wrapping up the 2017 class this early, the staff is able to concentrate their efforts on this 2018 class. It's a list that keeps growing. In just the last two weeks, they have offered Qwanzi Samuels from St. John College (MD). They offered Seth Pinkney out of Archbishop Wood (PA). The list keeps growing and growing and growing, as it did in 2017. And there it paid off. Only time will tell if history repeats itself.