Five-star point guard Rysheed Jordan (Philadelphia/Roberts Vaux), the No. 22 player in the ESPN 100, committed to St. John's on Thursday over Temple and UCLA, giving the Red Storm their first commitment in the class of 2013.
"I really like their style of play, pick-and-roll and how Coach [Steve] Lavin lets their guards play," Jordan said of St. John's. "On my visit I also built a great relationship with Chris Obekpa and Phil Greene. I liked New York City, and Coach Lavin is a great coach, just awesome."
The 6-foot-4 Jordan capped a stellar senior season with a state championship. He averaged 26 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds per game and was talked about in glowing terms in Philadelphia.
Jordan's stock rose considerably thanks to his strong senior season, as he catapulted up the ESPN 100 from the bottom half of the top 100 all the way into the top 25. UCLA had been a major factor in his recruitment, but once coach Ben Howland was fired, Jordan's decision ultimately came down to Temple and St. John's.
"Saying no to hometown Temple was tough and very emotional for Rysheed," said Jordan's travel team director, Kamal Yard of the Philly Pride program. "They recruited him extremely hard. They were where they needed to be when they needed to be there."
Lavin attended one of Jordan's playoff games, and Temple coach Fran Dunphy was front and center for the state title game. Jordan expressed a desire to leave Philadelphia, however, and St. John's provided him the opportunity to still play on the East Coast within reasonable distance to his large Philadelphia-based family.
"I love Philly and Temple," Jordan said. "Coach Dunphy is great, but I wanted to go away from home but decided not too far, so UCLA was out. I have been in Philly my whole life, and I want to experience new things."
For the second year in a row, St. John's has used the spring signing period to its advantage. Jordan is the first player to commit to Lavin in this year's class and can officially sign his letter of intent once the spring signing period (April 17-May 15) begins Wednesday. Last spring, the Red Storm similarly waited patiently for decisions from Obekpa and Jakarr Sampson, both of whom turned in fantastic freshman campaigns this past season.
The recruiting win over Temple is significant because the Owls built a strong case for the local product. The city of Philadelphia had an attachment to Jordan that seemed to grow stronger with each senior-season victory and playoff win. Jordan was often referred to as the Prince of North Philly.
In the end, however, the fit at St. John's was enough to lure Jordan to New York City.
"They needed a point guard,"Jordan said, "and I think I am just the piece they needed."