The Red Storm signed four recruits to NLI’s this off season: Forwards Justin Brownlee and Omari Lawrence, and guards Malik Stith and Dwight Hardy.
According to Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts, the incoming class will address some of the team's sore spots: an affinity for clanking shots off the rim being chief among them.
“We wanted to address specific needs with this recruiting class,” Roberts said.
“We wanted to improve upon three things – our ballhandling, our ability to shoot and score, and our overall athleticism. With this class, we were able to address all three.”
G 5-11 175lbs Fr.-H.S. Hempstead, N.Y.
(Bridgton Academy (Maine)
Stith played this past season at Bridgton Academy in Maine – the same prep school as current St. John’s rising juniors Paris Horne and Justin Burrell. In 2008-09, Stith led the Wolverines to a 25-11 record and a fourth New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) championship in the past five years, topping future-teammate Lawrence’s South Kent squad. Stith averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 assists in his prep season with the Wolverines. He scored 18 points in the NEPSAC title game, and was named NEPSAC Class A Most Valuable Player for keying the Wolverines to their tournament run.
G 6-2 190 Jr.-J.C. Bronx, N.Y.
Indian Hills C.C. (Iowa)
The 6-2, 190-pound Hardy graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx in 2006 after averaging an impressive 39.0 ppg with 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists as a senior under coach Johnny Mathis. He prepped for a year at the Patterson School in 2006-07, playing for coach Chris Chaney before enrolling at Indian Hills. Over the last two seasons, Hardy led Indian Hills to an incredible 58-13 record, starting 70 career games and scoring 1,163 points in two years. A NJCAA All-Region 11 first team selection in each of the last two seasons, Hardy finished his IHCC career as the school’s single-season and career leader in 3-point field goals and 3-point attempts. He made a record 102 3’s as a freshman and his two-season total was 173. Hardy was also an all-tournament selection in 2008 after scoring at a 30.3 ppg clip in four games during the NJCAA national tournament.
G/F 6-4 205 Fr.-H.S. Bronx, N.Y. (South Kent (Conn.)
Lawrence, a 6-4, 205-pound swingman who starred at St. Raymond’s in the Bronx before enrolling at South Kent for his senior year, has been rated a top 25 prospect at the small forward position. He averaged 18.0 points per game as a junior in 2007-08, earning first team All-City distinction from the NY Daily News and first team all-league honors from the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA).
This past season at South Kent, Lawrence led the Cardinals to a 26-7 record and an appearance in the NEPSAC title game, where his squad fell to Stith’s Bridgton Wolverines, whom the Cardinals defeated twice during the regular season. Undisputedly the team’s leader, Lawrence spurred his squad to a 16-game winning streak during the season, during which South Kent played for approximately two months without a loss. He averaged 14.1 points per game, 6.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds with a 79.0 percent mark from the free throw line for the year.
6-7 225lbs Jr.-J.C.
Tifton, Ga. (Chipola (Fla.
Brownlee, a 6-7, 225-pound forward, averaged 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds for Chipola Junior College in Mariana, Fla., located on the Florida panhandle. Brownlee’s Indians posted a 34-2 record in 2008-09, spent nine-straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA poll to close out the season, and finished in third place in the NJCAA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, falling to eventual national champion Salt Lake C.C.
Prior to his enrollment at Chipola, Brownlee attended City College of San Francisco during the 2006-07 season. Brownlee was a first team all-state JUCO selection in California after averaging approximately 20.0 points in one year with the Rams.
“St. John’s may have gotten the steal out of all of junior college,” said Jerry Mullen of Mullen’s Roundball Review, a national junior college recruiting service. “He is really talented. As a freshman he dominated JUCO ball in the state of California, and before that he was being recruited by several high-major Division I programs out of high school. Justin is a great kid and a really good get for St. John’s.”