Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mullin adds to recruiting class as Kassoum Yakwe signs with St. John's

Top 100 prospect Kassoum Yakwe signed with St. John's Sunday evening, enhancing Chris Mullin's first recruiting class. (Photo courtesy of The Sporting News)

When hired at his alma mater to replace Steve Lavin in March, Chris Mullin promised the St. John's fan base he endeared himself to with his exploits as a player three decades ago that he would hit the ground running as it related to recruiting.

Five months and a major cosmetic overhaul of the Red Storm roster later, the perennial NBA All-Star and former Olympic gold medalist has made good on his promise, a vow that was bolstered Sunday evening by the signing of Kassoum Yakwe.

Yakwe, a 6-7 forward who originally hails from Bamako, Mali, was ranked as high as No. 57 in the nation, chose the Red Storm over Oregon, and will enroll at St. John's for the fall semester, which begins shortly. Although not official until today, his impending arrival was broken this past Thursday by J.P. Pelzman of the Bergen Record, who announced via Twitter that Yakwe would indeed join the St. John's program.

"We are excited to welcome Kassoum to St. John's University and our basketball program," Mullin said in a release issued by the university. "He possesses tremendous athleticism, has good instincts, and will be a defensive presence. I look forward to working closely with him as he continues his basketball development."

A product of Long Island's Our Savior New American program, which also produced current Red Storm guard Felix Balamou and former forward Chris Obekpa, Yakwe caught the eye of the St. John's staff during last month's Peach Jam, where his breakout performance yielded averages of 9.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 5.0 blocked shots per game to complement a 68 percent shooting effort that garnered him All-Tournament Second Team honors over his five games.

Yakwe is the ninth signee for St. John's since Mullin's hire, joining four incoming freshmen, two graduate transfers, junior college transfer Darien Williams, and Tariq Owens, who will redshirt this season following his transfer from Tennessee. Prior to Yakwe's commitment, the Red Storm's recruiting class was ranked No. 39 in the nation by 247Sports.

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