Four-star forward Brandon Gardner asks for release from St. John’s one day after meeting new coach Rick Pitino with the entire recruiting class now set to head elsewhere
Four-star forward Brandon Gardner has asked for release from St. John’s following the hiring of Rick Pitino, according to a report.
Gardner, who attended Christ the King High School in Queens this past year, was the last remaining member of Mike Anderson’s three-man recruiting class.
He had initially remained committed to St. John’s following Anderson’s dismissal but requested his release from his National Letter of Intent a day after meeting with new coach Pitino, his mother Tameka Gordon told The New York Post.
In a statement shared to social media, Gardner said he would still consider re-committing to St. John’s but the school is reportedly not intending on re-recruiting him.
Gardner said: ‘I would like to thank St. John’s University, Coach Anderson for recruiting me, the amazing fan base and the entire coaching staff for all the love, respect and belief you have all shown my family and I during my recruitment process.
Brandon Gardner has asked for release from St. John’s following the hiring of Rick Pitino
His request came a day after meeting with St. John’s new coach Rick Pitino (pictured)
‘I want to share that I’ve recently requested my release from St. John’s to reopen my recruitment process to all schools, including St. John’s.
‘I look forward to embarking on this journey once more, and will make the best decision for my future and the game I love so much.’
Several other schools are said to have been expressing interest in Gardner through third parties, as far back as when speculation over Anderson’s future at St. John’s began.
It continued following Pitino’s hiring and there had been reports that those interested schools were offering set amounts of money to be paid through NIL deals.
However, his mother shut those rumors down, claiming the scrutiny was unfair on her son.
‘I’d like to stop the noise before it starts. NIL — it could never be over something my son is entitled to,’ Gordon told The Post.
‘Brandon Gardner was patient. He listened. He met with the coaching staff and respected everyone’s vision during this process, and my son is the captain of his ship.
‘It’s unfair to place any scrutiny on my son over NIL. My son wants to play at a school where he feels he can play, grow and build an exceptional IQ. Coach Pitino will build his own team. Whether he wanted my son or not is irrelevant. He’s building his team, his way. It’s important for my son to work off of his instincts and prayers/signs. If it was about NIL. Brandon wouldn’t have committed to St. John’s.’
In a statement, Gardner said he would still consider re-committing to St. John’s
Pitino was hired last month to replace Mike Anderson, who went 68-56 in four seasons
Pitino was hired last month to replace Anderson, who went 68-56 in four seasons at St. John’s. The Red Storm finished 18-15 this season and never made the NCAA Tournament during Anderson’s tenure.
Pitino, who was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island, has won 832 games in 34 full seasons as a college head coach, including NCAA championships at Kentucky in 1996 and Louisville in 2013.
The title at Louisville was vacated for NCAA violations, and another NCAA case related to the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting led to Pitino being fired by Louisville in 2017.
The final ruling from the NCAA’s outside enforcement arm on the FBI case came down in November and exonerated Pitino.
There was also a criminal extortion case in which Pitino was the victim during his time at Louisville that revealed personal indiscretions.
St. John’s gave the Hall of Famer a six-year contract to turn back the clock on a program that once stole New York City tabloid headlines away from the Knicks in the 1980s under coach Lou Carnesecca but has been mired in mediocrity for more than two decades.
At the end of last month, juniors Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu joined freshman guards AJ Storr and Kolby King, and sophomore forward O’Mar Stanley in the transfer portal.