St. John's men's basketball grad Justin Burrell will head overseas this fall, becoming the third member of the Class of 2011 to ink a professional deal by signing with a Japanese squad this week.
Burrell, the 2011 Big East Conference's Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in a reserve role, signed a contract with the Yokohama B-Corsairs and will report to the team, located just outside of Tokyo, Japan, in the first week of September.
"Justin's dominating physical style of play in the basket area at both ends of the court was key to our success this past season,” said Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin. “He will have a terrific experience overseas.”
“I am extra excited. I can't wait to be in a new country and a new city and begin a new chapter in my life,” said Burrell, who graduated in May with a degree in Communications. “This past year was an important step, I know everyone will always remember what we accomplished to get everything rolling again.”
Yokohama, one of four expansion franchises in the B.J. League, Japan’s second division, is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture on Tokyo Bay.
One of four Americans who will play for the B-Corsairs, Burrell will live in downtown Yokohama and will be coached by American Reggie Geary, who starred at Arizona before a two-year stint in the NBA, playing for Cleveland and San Antonio.
Burrell and the B-Corsairs will begin their season on Oct. 8 and play through March or April, depending on a postseason run.
The 6-9, 244-pound, Bronx-native Burrell, a member of the 2008 Big East All-Freshman team, became St. John’s 47th all-time 1,000-point scorer in 2010-11. Along with teammates D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne, he was one of three St. John’s players on the 2010-11 squad that reached the 1,000-point plateau, finishing his career with 1,006 career points. His 609 career rebounds rank 30th all-time in school history.
In mid-July, Horne signed to play for BG Gottingen, a member of the German Bundesliga, the premier basketball association in that nation. Dwight Hardy, a 2011 Associated Press All-American, signed a professional contract with Pistoia Basket in the Tuscany region of Italy, in late July.
Burrell’s senior season marked the first year of The Lavin Era, which included a 21-12 overall record in 2010-11 – marking St. John's most wins since the 2002-03 season – with six Top 25 victories and four over Top 10 opponents.