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Saturday / February 25.

St. John’s Focusing on Adding Bigs, Wings for 2014

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — St. John’s is loaded with guards for the foreseeable future, so head coach Steve Lavin and his staff are focused on recruiting bigs and wings in the 2014 class.

They currently have three scholarships available but could end up adding as many as five players in this class, depending on what happens with the current roster.

“Bigs, frontline players are the priority and we’re always open to the best available players at any position,” Lavin told while scouting talent at the Nike Global Challenge at Trinity Washington University.

Coaches are not permitted to comment on recruitable student-athletes but sources confirmed to that St. John’s has offered 2014 centers Goodluck Okonoboh of Wilbraham & Monson (Mass.), Pascal Chukwu of Fairfield (Conn.) Prep, Adonis Dela Rosa of Christ the King and Payton Dastrup of Mesa (AZ) Mountain View.

The Johnnies have also offered forwards Abdul Malik Abu of Kimball (N.H.) Union,  Terry Larrier of Malvern (Pa.) Phelps School and Joe Burton of Humble (TX) Atascocita.

As for guards, St. John’s is recruiting Isaiah Whitehead of Brooklyn Lincoln, Robert Johnson of Chesterfield (Va.) Benedictine and Jared Terrell, Abu’s Expressions Elite teammate out of Brewster (N.H.) Academy.

Abu and Terrell have discussed a package deal, whether that happens remains to be seen.

Abu’s recruitment is taking off this summer despite the fact that he’s fasting for Ramadan — including not drinking any water from sunup to sundown.

“I can’t do it, it’s my faith. It something I have to do, so I just do it,” he told

“It’s just not the same energy that I’m used to playing with. And that’s 90 percent of my game is being an energy guy and when you don’t have it, you just have to find it other places.”

With Lavin, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, UConn coach Kevin Ollie, Providence coach Ed Cooley, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon and N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried among those in the stands, Abu went for 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks as Pan Africa lost to USA Midwest, 98-91, Friday morning.

“I try not to see the coaches, but they’re there,” Abu said, adding that he won’t cut his list until later this summer. “Yep, definitely.”

The 6-foot-8 Larrier, who is here with USA East, has also seen his recruitment take off. He recently added offers from Arizona, UConn, VCU, SMU, Marquette, Kansas State and LSU. Larrier will cut his list to 15 in September, his AAU coach told

As for St. John’s, the current roster has guards Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene, Jamal Branch, D’Angelo Harrison and Sir’Dominic Pointer, so Lavin is looking ahead to some strong backcourt play as the team enters the new 10-team Big East.

After getting suspended to end last year, Harrison figures to play a major role as the off guard this year.

“He’s continued his path of progress and has good momentum going into the fall semester,” Lavin said.

The 6-4 Jordan will have the ball in his hands as a creator and distributor as well as a scorer.
“Rysheed brings a diverse skillset and the ability to play both the one and two spot for our team,” Lavin said.

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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.