St. John’s quiet and positive offseason hit a large brick wall on Tuesday morning.
Leading scorer and All-Big East second team selection LJ Figueroa, who is testing the 2020 NBA Draft waters, has entered the transfer portal.
The 6-foot-6 Figueroa told coach Mike Anderson he wanted to explore his options on Tuesday, according to a source. It’s uncertain if the program would take him back if he wanted to return, the source said. Figueroa didn’t give any reasons why he was interested in leaving.
Sources said the news didn’t necessarily surprise the coaching staff. In recent weeks, the level of communication between Figueroa and St. John’s coaches had waned. If Figueroa does in fact transfer, he would have to sit out next season barring a legislative relief waiver. There were schools in his ear about the possibility of receiving such a waiver, sources said, based on the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic in New York City.
After being a breakout star as a sophomore, Figueroa struggled somewhat as the team’s top option last year, averaging 14.5 points per game on 37.9 shooting from the field. He did fit in well with Anderson’s pressing, up-tempo style, leading the Big East in steals at 1.9 per game.
Losing Figueroa would be a significant blow to the program, which had passed on several intriguing transfers because it didn’t have the room to take any, according to sources. One of them, Monmouth transfer guard Ray Salnave, recently picked DePaul after getting courted by St. John’s. The Johnnies stepped back when it received positive news about Figueroa coming back, sources said. Salnave, a Queens native, would likely have picked St. John’s.
Last spring, after Anderson was hired, Figueroa put his name in the transfer portal as well, but opted to return.