The Rick Pitino Era at St. John’s starts in four days, and we now know that it will begin with the Red Storm having nearly its full complement of players with encouraging news that the Hall of Famer shared Friday.
After a preseason that’s featured bumps in the road on the injury front in Queens, Pitino announced that senior star Jordan Dingle (hand), All-Big East Preseason First Team selection Joel Soriano (calf) and impact transfer Cruz Davis (hand) will all be available when the Johnnies open their 2023-24 campaign hosting Stony Brook on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports app).
UMass sophomore transfer RJ Luis (11.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG last year) is still working his back from a hand injury and will not play in the opener.
Dingle did not appear in the preseason exhibition games against Rutgers or Division II school Pace, and is regarded as the potential leading scorer for this team after averaging over 23 points per game at Penn last season. Soriano, the starting center for SJU who was second in the country with 25 double-doubles last season, can’t be overstated for what his role will be for the Red Storm this year and there’s a lot of buzz around what Pitino, an elite player-developer, can do with the big man. Davis, a 6-foot-3 guard who followed Pitino from Iona, was a unanimous selection to the All-MAAC Rookie Team last year and averaged 6.5 points per game.
The 71-year-old Pitino, who was the first college basketball coach to take three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville) to the Final Four, will open his 36th season as an NCAA head coach next week.
The Red Storm are ranked 20th in my FOX College Hoops Preseason Top 25.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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