L.J Figueroa says goodbye St. John’s, hello Oregon

LJ Figueroa, St. John's Red Storm. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
LJ Figueroa, St. John's Red Storm. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

It’s official LJ Figueroa is no longer part of the St. John’s basketball team. His tenure ended officially when he transferred to Oregon on Monday.

It was a marriage that should have lasted longer than it did. After one season under St. John’s new head coach Mike Anderson, star player LJ Figueroa has transferred to the University of Oregon. He made it official Monday afternoon.

Figueroa, who led the Red Storm in scoring with 14.4 points-per-game last year left a program that looked to be turning the corner under Anderson and his “40 Minutes of Hell” brand of in your face basketball. The 6-6 wing player announced his intent to head west on Instagram. He thanked both coaches he played for in Queens, Anderson, and Chris Mullin. Further Figuroa said that the decision to transfer was out of his control.

The comment about his transfer being out of his control is far fetched. Unless Anderson came to him and flat out said “LJ, we don’t need you.” it was entirely in his control. What Figueroa should have written (after the obligatory thank you) was, “I wasn’t a good fit for coach Anderson’s system, It’s not the style of basketball I feel fits my skill set.”

There wouldn’t be many coaches, players, or even fans that would have held this transfer against the rising senior. Mike Anderson didn’t recruit Figueroa, but both the player and coach tried to make it work last season. Call the situation what it is instead of blaming unforeseen circumstances or the proliferation of COVID-19 in New York City.

It was obvious when Figueroa first declared for the NBA Draft, then entered the NCAA transfer portal that he wasn’t happy as a St. John’s basketball player anymore. Anderson understood, publicly he was supportive of his former player.

Anderson’s style of play is completely different from that of Figuroa’s former Johnnies coach Mullin. The coaches also have dissimilar approaches to how the game should be played as well as very different temperaments.

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Additionally, Oregon is poised to make a run at the national championship in 2020-21 and Figueroa wanted to play for a winner. There is no crime in any of that for either player or coach.

If fear of coronavirus is the argument Figueroa will use to petition for immediate eligibility from the NCAA, he should at least give the team and fans he left behind a courtesy wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

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