The rebuilding job Chris Mullin inherited at St. John's became a little bit more difficult Friday when one of his best players announced he will not return next season.
Rysheed Jordan, the Big East's ninth-leading scorer this past season, will forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility and pursue a professional career. The 6-foot-4 guard is ineligible for the NBA draft until 2016 because he missed last month's early-entry deadline, but he could play overseas next season or in the D-League.
"Playing professional basketball has always been a goal of mine. I believe I am ready to take the next step in my basketball career and plan to work hard to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA," Jordan said in a statement released by the school. "I am thankful for the opportunities and support St. John's University has provided to me. This decision was made with my family's best interests in mind."
The unusual timing of Jordan's announcement stems from the academic issues that he encountered during spring semester.
The New York Post reported that Jordan is academically ineligible to play for St. John's next fall. He could have rejoined the team in December if he passed his summer and fall semester classes, but he opted to turn pro instead.
"We support Rysheed and wish him well in his professional endeavors," Mullin said. "He has the potential to play at the highest level of our sport."
A former top 50 recruit, Jordan has the potential to get an NBA look someday if he can perform with more consistency than he did at St. John's. He averaged 14.1 points and 3.1 assists to help St. John's reach the NCAA tournament last season, but his off-the-court issues were a constant source of distraction for the Johnnies.
The loss of Jordan makes it all the more important that Mullin was able to land talented freshman point guard Marcus LoVett Jr. earlier this spring. It will be LoVett who will likely inherit a larger-than-expected role as a freshman with Jordan no longer available to serve as a lead guard and primary ball handler.
- - - - - - -