RJ Luis Jr.’s return could make St. John’s ‘very scary’ with added dynamic
HARTFORD, Conn. Roughly three weeks later, RJ Luis Jr. is back again.
St. Johns hopes it is an extended stay this time.
The talented transfer from UMass had missed 10 of the Johnnies 11 games this year.
The first five were due to a fractured left hand. He missed four others due to shin splints.
He returned in Saturdays disappointing 69-65 loss at No. 5 Connecticut and was impressive across 18 quality minutes.
There was considerable rust, but also glimpses of his immense promise: six points, three rebounds and two steals.
Great defensive player, great length, coach Rick Pitino said. Hes nowhere near himself, but we got him time, which was very, very important.
It was somewhat surprising news, since Luis had only practiced a few times since getting the boot removed from his left foot and Pitino had previously suggested a return on Jan. 2 against Butler was the target date.
But Luis was cleared to return.
St. John’s RJ Luis Jr. (12) and UConn’s Cam Spencer, right, chase the ball during the second half on Saturday. APIt is a significant development for St. Johns (8-4, 1-1), which has missed Luis dynamic offensive skillset and shot creation on the wing.
He was an All-Atlantic 10 freshman team selection last winter who averaged 11.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals per game and shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range.
We have to be careful, because it could flare up again, Pitino said. Its making sure that the leg is not stressed too much. We just got to get him through the season. … Im not sure were going to see the best of RJ this year. Hes missed a lot of time.
He is, however, a welcome addition, in terms of the versatility he provides and the added depth.
Luis enables Pitino to play small, going with the wing as a backup power forward to starter Chris Ledlum in a four-out offense. That was the plan before the most recent injury.
Red Storm guard RJ Luis Jr. (12) makes the basket against the Connecticut Huskies in the first half at XL Center on Saturday. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters ConNow hes back, and hoping not to spend any more time on the sideline.
For the time being, St. Johns is whole again.
RJ helps us defensively, offensively. Hes another ball-handler, star center Joel Soriano said. You saw how electric he was today. I cant wait until hes fully, fully healthy. I feel like were going to be very scary when hes back.
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