Sedee Keita Set for Increased Role with St. John's

Jamaica, NY—November 1st. Roughly three weeks till the first exhibition game against Maryville, (St. Louis) South Carolina transfer Sedee Keita will be making his Red Storm debut in front of the home crowd at Carnesecca Arena.

The Philadelphia native will be playing his first game since the April 1st against Gonzaga. The contest in 2017 was the last time Keita was on the floor for a game that was meaningful, where he had two personal fouls in two minutes of play.

As a reserve player for the Gamecocks in his freshman season, Keita played in 29 games during their run to the Final Four. Appeared in 14 SEC conference games. He also grabbed seven boards as well against Memphis on December 30th, 2016, which set a career high for Keita.

The Red Storm have players that can fill the roll of every need that third year head coach Chris Mullin may have. Whether it is a backup guard, backup forward, St. John’s now has it, but is Sedee Keita ready for the increased role within the Big East?

Ranked as one of the most improved teams with the incoming transfers from last season in Keita, former MAAC Rookie of the Year, Mikey Dixon, the Johnnies, who went 16-17, 5-15 on the season, look to reach the 20 win plateau. If they can accomplish this feat, it would be the first time during the Chris Mullin era that the men’s basketball program has reached 20 wins since the Steve Lavin era in 2014-15. (Last time the Johnnies reached the NCAA Tournament, as well)

Begin the 2018-19 season for the St. John’s Red Storm. A revamped roster, that is finally filled. Higher expectations with the addition of Keita, Wright, Figueroa, and the biggest one of them all, former Auburn Tiger in Mustapha Heron. The biggest departure, the Big East blocks leader in Tariq Owens, who took his talents as a graduate student to Texas Tech.

Keita vs. Owens

Covering the Johnnies for the WSJU St. John’s University Radio Network for the previous two seasons as a student of the college, and traveling to call numerous games, you notice things that you most likely will miss from Owens, and would like to see from some of the newcomers.

Owens, who is 6’11” and 205 lbs, was a major competitor, and factored continuously into the 16 wins that the Johnnies had on the season. The Big East Conference has been deflated to an extent due to the graduations of some players, along with some being drafted to the NBA. Jalen Brunson, Omari Spellman, Andrew Rowsey, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez, Marin Maric, the list keeps going on. The Odenton, Maryland native finished his St. John’s career with 175 blocks, and contributed 97 blocks on the season. From two seasons ago, the defensive ranking improved from 131st to 29th in the nation last season in defensive points per possession allowed.

Keita, who is 6’9”, and 240 lbs, is a youngster, who has march madness experience with the South Carolina Gamecocks from their final four run in 2016-17, should provide a boost in the defense while the Johnnies play small. If the folks at home remember the original starting lineup pre-LoVett injury, Mullin had Clark as the fifth forward or the center spot if you will. The team originally was going to play small with Owens coming off the bench. Injury caused his lineup and thinking to change on the fly.

The biggest questions that we have for Keita, will he be able to log all these minutes that will be expected of him? Who will back him up? Can we rely on the freshman Josh Roberts? (Also 6’9” but 30 lbs. lighter) How will Keita be implemented into St. John’s game if Heron does or doesn’t play? Can he run? Sources inside of Carnesecca Arena have said that he has put on muscle, and has gotten faster. Well, that’s a good sign. Can he be a secondary shooter? 27% from the field at South Carolina. And having 15 turnovers averaging 1.1 minutes per game?

Tune in to find out all these answers this season. Because NCAA expectations are back on Utopia Parkway, for the third straight year.

Joseph Jarzynka