UMass transfer R.J. Luis is latest to join Rick Pitino at St. John's | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / May 28.
  • UMass transfer R.J. Luis is latest to join Rick Pitino at St. John’s

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    UMass transfer R.J. Luis is the latest addition to Rick Pitino’s new team at St. John’s.

    The 6-foot-7 freshman from Miami chose the Red Storm over Louisville and Texas A&M — and took visits to all three schools.

    “I will be playing under Coach Rick Pitino at St John’s,” he told ZAGSBLOG.

    “I’m a big versatile guard that can make plays on both sides of the ball.”

    Luis was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team after averaging 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds on 46% shooting and 36% from deep as a freshman.

    “Late bloomer, going to be terrific,” one Big East assistant coach said.

    “RJ is a multidimensional player who can play three positions,” said Pitino. “We are excited to have RJ in our program. He has an incredible desire to reach his potential and we will do everything possible to make that happen.”

    Luis comes to Queens after one season at UMass where he starred for the Minutemen. A 2023 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection, Luis averaged 11.5 points shooting 45.5 percent from the field in 27 appearances, including 10 starts. He also finished the year ranked second on the team with 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

    As a freshman in 2022-23, Luis registered 17 double-digit scoring performances, including four 20-plus point outings and one 30-point effort. Luis erupted for a career-high 31 points to help lead UMass to a win over Duquesne on Jan. 28. He shot 7-for-11 from the field and sank 17-of-18 attempts at the free-throw line while also grabbing five rebounds. Luis finished the season strong as he scored double figures in 13 of his final 15 appearances. In his final five games, Luis averaged 16.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest.

    Before arriving in Amherst, Luis starred at Mt. Zion Prep in Maryland where he averaged 18.6 points during the 2021-22 season. He posted five 20-point performances, including a season-high 26 points against Putnam Science Academy. Luis also averaged 3.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per contest at Mt. Zion Prep.

    Prior to his prep year at Mt. Zion Prep, Luis dominated high school ball at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami. The First Team All-State 7A selection produced a stellar senior campaign, averaging 25.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Luis was also named First Team All-Dade at the conclusion of his senior season. As a junior in 2019-20, Luis posted 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds to earn All-Dade Honorable Mention recognition.

    Pitino and his staff have now added seven transfers — Luis, Glenn Taylor (Oregon State), Nahiem Alleyne (UConn), Sean Conway (VMI), Daniss Jenkins (Iona), Cruz Davis (Iona) and Quinn Slazinski (Iona) — along incoming freshman guard Brady Dunlap.

    St. John’s remains involved for Iona transfer Sadiku Ayo and Penn transfer Jordan Dingle, as well as five-star Class of 2023 wing Mackenzie Mgbako, who has visited St. John’s, Kansas and Indiana and will also see Louisville. One source said Mgbako had a “great visit” but it remains unclear where he’ll land.

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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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