With Big Boys Involved, St. John's Has Ground to Make Up in Rawle Alkins Recruitment | Zagsblog
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • With Big Boys Involved, St. John’s Has Ground to Make Up in Rawle Alkins Recruitment

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    RawleNEW YORK –– With more and more big-time Division 1 programs joining the Rawle Alkins recruitment seemingly every day, St. John’s has some work to do to make up ground in his recruitment.

    Soon after taking the job, new St. John’s coach Chris Mullin offered a scholarship to the 6-foot-5 junior guard from Christ the King who is New York City’s top player. But schools like Kansas, Villanova, Indiana and Cincinnati have already been recruiting him for a while, and new schools like Duke, Kentucky and Louisville are getting involved.

    “I would think that [St. John’s] has some ground to make up,” CTK coach Joe Arbitello told SNY Tuesday on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “A lot of schools have been on him from the beginning. He’s taken some unofficials to these places and he’s had conversations with a lot of coaches, like coach [Tom] Crean [of Indiana] and coach [Bill] Self [of Kansas] so they’re up against the heavyweights and they’ve been in it a little bit longer than St. John’s so they’ve got some ground to make up.”

    Mullin launched an opening salvo at his introductory press conference in terms of building a wall around New York City.

    “I think it’s really important that we dominate New York,” he said. “If there’s a good player in New York City he needs to come to St John’s if he wants to play the best basketball.” 

    While there isn’t enough talent in the city year in and year out to to support a high-major program, every year there seems to be at least one or two elite players. New York’s last McDonald’s All-American was Isaiah Whitehead in 2014. This year, only Long Island’s Cheick Diallo made the game from the area.

    Alkins, 17, is certainly a candidate for the 2016 McDonald’s Game. He is leading the adidas Gauntlet series in scoring at 29.3 points per game for the NY Rens.

    “I worked for this so I expect it,” he said of his success. “It wasn’t just handed to me. I came a long way from my freshman year and nobody knew who I was. I was virtually unknown and now everyone is starting to drool over me. It’s just showing that hard work is paying off.”

    Arbitello said newly-minted NCAA champion Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and his “entire staff” were in Dallas this past weekend for Alkins’ first game. He added that Auburn’s Bruce Pearl was expected to “reach out” Tuesday night. Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin have passed through CTK, and Kentucky has also shown some interest.

    “I recently got a call from Texas, Bruce Pearl and Auburn [called],” Alkins said. “After the weekend I had in Dallas, a bunch of new schools are starting to recruit me. Duke is starting to recruit me, Kentucky, Louisville. Now they’re coming at me harder than they ever did. They’re coming at me hard.”

    Where does that leave St. John’s?

    “Rawle’s a national recruit,” Arbitello said. “There’s no history there with him as far as St. John’s is concerned. I can’t even tell you if Rawle’s ever been on the campus at St. John’s. When you’re going up against those programs and those coaches, you really have to bring your your A game.”

    Still, Alkins, whose high school status for next year is unclear because he played a year of varsity basketball before coming to Christ the King, is intrigued by the possibility of staying in New York for college. He has been compared to a young Lance Stephenson, and Stephenson ultimately left New York for one year at Cincinnati before going to the NBA.

    “Chris Mullin, he’s a really good basketball player, he’s a Hall of Fame player,” Alkins said. “Hopefully he can transform his basketball skills into coaching.”

    Asked if he could envision himself playing for the Johnnies at the Garden, Alkins said, “Right now I’m just trying to get better basketball-wise. I’m not focused on college right now.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.

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