College Basketball
St. John's, Rick Pitino land a difference-maker in Kadary Richmond
College Basketball

St. John's, Rick Pitino land a difference-maker in Kadary Richmond

Published May. 7, 2024 9:32 p.m. ET

Kadary Richmond will still be lighting up the Big East next season — but wearing red instead of blue.

In one of the biggest offseason transfer portal moves of the cycle, the 6-foot-6 Brooklyn native made a move on Tuesday that had been rumored to be coming for awhile, as the Seton Hall transfer announced he was heading across the Hudson River to suit up for Rick Pitino and St. John’s for his final season of college basketball.

[2024 college basketball transfer portal tracker]

Coming off an All-Big East First team season in which he led the Pirates to their first NIT title since 1953, Richmond’s move boosts momentum for the Red Storm, who added another star guard in Utah transfer Deivon Smith on Monday. Getting the Seton Hall transfer gives the Johnnies one of the nation's most gifted backcourts.


Richmond is one of college basketball's most unique talents, averaging 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game with an efficiency that stands in a special class. According to EvanMiya's analytics system, Seton Hall was a completely different team with him on the floor — eight points per 100 possessions better offensively and 12 points per 100 possessions better defensively (+20 PP100 overall).

"Kadary is a consistent jump shot away from being an NBA player," Pitino told FOX Sports over the phone on Tuesday afternoon. "He is such a unique player, very unique. I haven't seen too many like him in my career. We obviously played against him and tried to stop him, but that was difficult. He can beat you off the bounce, has a terrific passing ability, and what we're going to work on is improving that spot-up jump shot. But he has all of the pieces to be a great, great player."

What does Richmond's move mean?

A year after ex-Providence legend Ed Cooley left the Friars for Georgetown, this is a move that doesn't produce nearly as much vitriol because it's a player, but it does produce major buzz around the rivalry between Seton Hall and St. John's, who have met 112 times in their history, including three games against each other this past season — Richmond and the Pirates swept the regular season series before the Red Storm took their Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup. Richmond's move certainly won't lead to Shaheen Holloway and Pitino sharing a hug at Big East meetings in Florida in two weeks, but they won't be alone in that. The conference has a level of old school throwback drama that's reminiscent of its 80s and 90s days. 

Love it or hate it, we're talking about Big East basketball frivolity and personal vendettas in May, and this time of year, no attention is bad attention.

For the Red Storm, acquiring Richmond puts them in my way too early Top 25 — which will be updated again sometime soon — and makes the Johnnies around a top-20-or-so team heading into next season.

The big question: How will Richmond and Smith, who averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game and reminds Pitino of his former Louisville guard Terry Rozier, coexist in the Johnnies offense?

Pitino told FOX Sports that he spoke with Richmond about that topic on Monday, and the Hall of Fame coach, a two-time national champion, referenced how he's made other backcourts coexist throughout his career.

"I told Kadary last night, it's all about winning for us," Pitino said. "I had Russ Smith, and Peyton Siva, and Luke Hancock. The idea is you don’t want to be limited in how you are as a team. It’s just not that way. You want to be able to attack an opponent in different ways. We have RJ Luis, Simeon Wilcher and Brady Dunlap back as well, and all three are going to be very critical to our success. But we run a motion offense. It needs to be a by-committee approach on my teams.

"RJ Luis needs the ball, Simeon Wilcher needs the ball, too. You want to create motion where everybody is defending, and now we'll have all of the pieces to do that. It’s not the NBA where the ball’s always in Jalen Brunson’s hands. The ball is to be shared by everybody. The college game is different."

As for what's next for the Red Storm, they are covered at the center position with USC transfer Vince Iwuchukwu, as well as returning big man Zuby Eljiofor, who could be poised for a breakout season in year two in Queens.

"We've got to get a power forward," Pitino said.

With Mike Repole, the co-founder of Glaceau (making of Vitaminwater) and thoroughbred horse owner, helping St. John's NIL wallet significantly in the form of millions, the Red Storm are lined up in the Pitino era to continue to get players. Now, the question is which power forward SJU will land to cap off the roster.

But with this roster, getting to the NCAA Tournament and breaking a quarter-century drought without a March Madness win is more than attainable for 2025. Richmond has never been to the big dance, but he got Seton Hall very, very close. Now, adding him to a Pitino team carries scary potential and adds intrigue and fire to the metropolitan hoops scene.

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John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.


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