Preseason expectations haven’t been this high for St. John’s since the last time it reached the NCAA Tournament in 2018.
Like that team, the Johnnies were picked to finish fourth in the Big East in a vote by the league’s coaches on Tuesday’s conference media day, and had a leading man recognized.
St. John’s hopes what follows is a better season than the one Chris Mullin, Shamorie Ponds and co. produced three years ago. That group fell off a cliff late in the year, was the last team selected for the dance – they were quickly eliminated in the First Four – and finished a dismal seventh in the Big East.
Mullin didn’t return, Ponds opted not to come back for his senior year and then went undrafted. And a new era began with Mike Anderson, who soon signed Julian Champagnie as his first major recruit. In their third year together, after two winning seasons that surpassed low expectations, there is ample hype for Anderson, Champagnie and the Johnnies.
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The league’s coaches seem to believe in them. St. John’s was picked fourth in the league, behind (in order) Villanova, UConn and Xavier, and ahead of No. 5 Seton Hall. Champagnie was voted as a unanimous first-team selection and Posh Alexander, the reigning Freshman of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year last season, made the second team.
Champagnie was joined on the league’s first team by Seton Hall senior forward Jared Rhoden, Providence’s Nate Watson and Xavier duo Paul Scruggs and Zach Freemantle. The second team was composed of Alexander, UConn’s R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin and Villanova’s Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels.
Villanova senior point guard Collin Gillespie was named the Preseason Player of the Year and Georgetown five-star guard Aminu Mohammed was picked as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.