St. John’s did not recruit Jon Severe out of Christ the King High School, but Royals coach Joe Arbitello says they should have.
“I think it was a mistake,” Arbitello told SNY.tv Friday morning, one day before Fordham and St. John’s will meet on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
“I think that any New York City team that didn’t recruit him probably made a big mistake.”
In St. John’s defense, they were focused on Philadelphia’s Rysheed Jordan and didn’t have a scholarship available until Amir Garrett transferred.
Still, entering Saturday’s game, the 6-foot-3 Severe is leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 23.2 points per game. In his last two games, Severe dropped 30 in a win at Manhattan and had 23 in a win over Furman.
He has already been named A-10 Rookie of the Week twice.
Yes, he takes a lot of shots and yes, he may not be on their level talent-wise, but Severe is averaging more points than freshmen studs Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon.
He will enter the Fordham game averaging 4.2 points and having been suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.
St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and his staff saw Severe several times last season, and on Friday Lavin called Severe a “pro.”
“We really liked his game but didn’t have any scholarships available last year until the spring,” Lavin said. “He’s a Big East level player that we would’ve recruited if we had any scholarships available. [Branden] Frazier played really well against us throughout his career as well. Those two put a lot of heat on you. They have the ‘Emerald City Green Light’ from Coach [Tom] Pecora and have taken the majority of the team’s shots. They are the leading scorers and basically everything runs through them. The other players seemed to accept that and are willing to play their roles to set those two players up.
“(Severe)’s a Big East player. Anywhere that I’ve coached I would’ve recruited him. He’s a really good basketball player. He’ll be a pro, he’ll be in the NBA.”
Arbitello pointed out that St. John’s watched Bishop Loughlin guards Khadeen Carrington (who signed with Seton Hall) and Mike Williams (Rutgers) when they played Christ the King.
“They had a chance to see him play a lot,” Arbitello said. “They’re down the block and they can see that he’s able to do it against anybody. We played a national schedule.
“He’s scored on guys that are going to Syracuse, North Carolina, he put up big numbers. He can score against anybody.”
Severe averaged 21.6 points as a senior at Christ the King while leading the Royals to the CHSAA Class AA intersectional championship and New York State Federation Class AA championship as a senior.
“At the end of the day he was the Tri-State Player of the Year and he was the New York State Player of the Year and [he was at] a very good high school program,” Arbitello said.
In the end, Severe chose Fordham over Rutgers, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.
“I think Tom Pecora is a lot like myself, a New York City guy who’s straight to the point and is realistic with the guys he’s recruiting,” Arbitello said. “And I think that’s what got them ahead of everybody else.”
And on Saturday, St. John’s will get an up-close look at Severe.