St. John’s and Rick Pitino have landed the athletic power forward he said they desperately needed.
After considering a visit to Kentucky, Zuby Ejiofor, a transfer from Kansas, has committed to joining Rick Pitino and the St. John’s Red Storm. Ejiofor’s commitment comes as a contingency plan in case Oscar Tshiebwe, who initially planned to visit Kentucky, decides to leave the team. While Ejiofor may have been a depth piece with limited playing time at Kentucky, his addition to St. John’s adds to the roster Pitino is assembling.
If Tshiebwe does not return to Kentucky, the team will face challenges in finding suitable replacements for the frontcourt. It remains uncertain who the Wildcats could fill the roster with in Tshiebwe’s absence.
Pitino Keeps Adding Talent
On the other hand, Pitino has been successful in securing transfers with connections to Kentucky, as evidenced by landing Jordan Dingle. Ejiofor, a 6-foot-9 power forward, had a modest freshman season at Kansas, averaging 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. However, he is known for his work ethic, athleticism, and motor. While he may have had to wait until his junior year to earn a significant role at Kansas due to over-recruitment concerns, joining Pitino at St. John’s provides him with the opportunity for development and increased playing time. Ejiofor is the 10th transfer addition for Pitino. Ejiofor initially chose Kansas over Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and TCU.
“I heard everything they had to say and I felt the love from the entire staff and just how beautiful the campus was and how I saw myself developing,” Ejiofor said in a phone interview. We visited Villanova and we enjoyed our time there. We thought it was a great campus, we thought it was a good foot as far as basketball-wise, but when we went to St. John’s, everything fell right in place as far as the coaching staff. And coach Rick Pitino and the legacy he’s left on the game as well.” – Zuby Ejiofor
Pitino On Zuby
“Zuby is a quality athlete, basketball player and person. He is an outstanding defensive player who is really going to bolster our front court.” – Rick Pitino
Just an incredible job by our staff in recruiting 11 quality athletes with great potential. A culture is formed with selfless people that have a strong thirst for winning. So excited to work with these 13 talented men 💪 pic.twitter.com/Zl18MsJTTg
— Rick Pitino (@RealPitino) May 15, 2023
“Beforehand the [St. John’s staff] believed I was a five, but I could turn into a four,” he said. “They said they would improve my shot and develop me and handling the ball around the perimeter. Rick Pitino said I was a true forward and he would love to coach me…This morning I ended up telling Coach Pitino that I was going to be on the team next year and they were excited and so was I and that’s how it is.” – Zuby Ejiofor
It appears Pitino is already on the right track to bringing the Johnnies back into contention in the Big East and into national relevance. He’ll have to have another great recruiting class next year, but this is a heck of a start.