For many years, St. John's University benefited from the surplus of great prospects. Then Little Louie left in 1992 and there were some sprinkles of success. But the consistency that was so astounding during Carnesecca era had vanished.
St. John's head coach Norm Roberts is trying to revitalize a Red Storm program. And he realizes to get to the highest level in the Big East, one must sign the top players from this area.
Roberts received a commitment from Omari Lawrence, the former St. Raymond's (Bronx, N.Y.) only last month. The 6-foot-4 swingman who is now at South Kent in Connecticut, dropped by one afternoon in August and gave his decision.
This wasn't unexpected since New York Panthers AAU program director Gary Charles had indicated Lawrence was leaning to St. John's.
"Playing in front of family and friends was important," said Lawrence. "Playing in Madison Square Garden is exciting. I like the coaches at St. John's. I feel like I can contribute as a freshman."
A nifty lefty player who can score near the rim with baseline agility, Lawrence previously considered Pittsburgh, Miami, Virginia, Marquette, Connecticut, and Louisville. He wasn't offered by all of these schools but there was enough high division one interest to make his decision tough.
"I feel St. John's is the best place for me," Lawrence said. "I'll have the opportunity. I'll work hard and hopefully we can win a lot of games."