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The expectation that transfers will not have to sit out next year has led to upheaval across the sport. It’s hit St. John’s as hard as any program.
On Wednesday, two rotation players, Greg Williams Jr. and Marcellus Earlington, entered the transfer portal — joining Josh Roberts, John McGriff, Vince Cole and Isaih Moore. Star sophomore Julian Champagnie has already announced his intentions to test the NBA draft waters while maintaining his college eligibility.
According to sources, Williams and Earlington had been on the fence about transferring and ultimately decided to at least explore their options on Wednesday after helping St. John’s finish fourth in the Big East.
“I had a lot of talks with my family and people close to me. This year didn’t turn out how I thought it would, and I felt it was best for me to weigh other options,” Earlington told The Post. “I love the staff, I love the playing style. Obviously, I didn’t play as much as I intended.”
Williams’ father, Greg Sr., said: “It’s not a question of loyalty. He’s been loyal to St. John’s and the fans. He’s been an exemplary person. He’s doing nothing more than trying to see what’s his value, what’s his worth. That’s all he’s trying to do. There’s nothing wrong with trying to find out if anything out there is better for him.”
Anderson and his staff were aware of this possibility, sources said, and are firmly in the mix for several transfers. It is uncertain whether Williams or Earlington decided they want to return, if they would be welcomed back. The focus at the moment is improving the roster which right now has five open scholarships. St. John’s did recently add a transfer, landing Vermont guard Stef Smith, and is involved with Louisville forward Aidan Igiehon, who played locally on Long Island, among several others. Of St. John’s top seven scorers from last year, four have entered the transfer portal, one is expected to move on from college in Dunn and Champagnie could end up going pro. Next year’s roster could have an entirely different look.
The likely departure of Roberts, Williams and Earlington would also end any connection to the Chris Mullin era. Williams, the team’s third-leading scorer, was seen as a key part of the core, though chronic back problems had slowed his development. Earlington was used as a small-ball stretch forward off the bench but sees his natural position as on the wing. Roberts started the second half of the season but rarely closed games and averaged just 10.6 minutes in a reduced role.
“We thank Greg, John, Josh and Marcellus for all of their contributions to the St. John’s basketball program and wish them nothing but the best,” Anderson said in a released statement. “They represented our University well and played key roles in the success we had the past two seasons.”
There was some jealousy among some of the players who left over the credit that was given to the New York City players like Champagnie, Dylan Addae-Wusu, Rasheem Dunn and Posh Alexander, sources said. But the overriding factor in these departures were role allocation and the opportunity to see what the interest level would be from other programs without having to sit out a year.
“I don’t think there’s one particular reason. Everybody took the time to think about their options, and everybody wants to do what’s best for them,” Earlington said. “There’s nothing that went wrong.”