Rick Pitino is one of the best coaches in college basketball history. He is the first to lead two different teams to national championships, with Kentucky in 96 and Louisville in 2013, and has brought three different teams to the Final Four. In fact, the new coach of the SJU Red Storm is the 35th winningest head man in NCAA history with 711 wins.
However, numerous scandals have tainted the legendary coach’s legacy and many of his wins, including the national championship in 2013. Heading into his 50th season of coaching, Pitino looks to continue his winning ways and restore his legacy with Saint John’s.
Pitino completely revamped the Red Storm’s roster, starting four transfers from the previous class, and 2021 transfer Joel Soriano who led the team with 22 in their 90-74 opening night win over Stony Brook. Pitino essentially did the same as Coach Prime, completely flipping the roster with 11 transfers coming in. The three below played crucial game one minutes for SJU and will have a huge impact on a team hoping to compete for a Big East title.
Chris Ledlum, Harvard, SG
At 6-6 225, the Brooklyn native is a nightmare for defenses. Ledlum was a stud for the Crimson last season, a unanimous All-Ivy First Teamer, was the official team MVP, and was second in the Ivy League at 18.8 points per game.
Ledlum played an outstanding first game for the Red Storm, finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds, with a whopping nine of those coming on the offensive end.
Daniss Jenkins, Iona, G
Another starter for Pitino’s newly revamped Red Storm team, Jenkins played for Rick Pitino last season at Iona. The three-time transfer was the only Gael to start all 35 games last year, helping lead them to a 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Jenkins averaged 15.6 ppg for Iona last season and continued to show off his scoring ability Tuesday night.
Jenkins played an incredibly balanced game for the Red Storm in the win, dropping 17 points on over 50% from the field, along with eight dimes and seven boards. Great start for a guy who Pitino has immense trust in.
Jordan Dingle, Penn, G
The leading scorer of Pitino’s transfer class, Dingle, averaged over 23 per contest for Penn last season. The 6-3 senior can score from all spots on the floor, including an exceptional 85.6% at the line earning him the 2022-2023 Ivy League Player of the Year.
Dingle piled on 13 more points to the transfer class’s total in the win, despite struggling from beyond the arc. Dingle will only get better for SJU as he continues to build chemistry with new teammates and find his stroke for a Red Storm team looking for a March run.