Isaiah Whitehead Chooses Seton Hall, Pirates May Have Also Hired His Coach

The top 25 guard once said the Orange was his favorite, but SU didn’t even make his final 5.


Update: One of the top guards in the ’14 class chose to stay close to home Thursday, by committing to Seton Hall. The Pirates have been a middle-of-the-road program for years in the Big East, but will now have the talent to make some noise in the new recalibration of its league. Whitehead is a strong, physical guard that can use his body to get off his shot and create around the basket. 

Whitehead said staying close to home was a priority for him since he didn’t wan’t to move far away from his mother. That allowed both St. John’s and Seton Hall to jump into the fray and become two finalists for his services, and bounced out schools like Louisville and UCLA who didn’t even make his top 5. The interesting note on this decision is the buzz that the Pirates will hire his coach at Lincoln – Tiny Morton – as their assistant coach. And here comes the college basketball world accusing SHU of some shady practices with that coming to light. 3…. 2…. 1…. yep, it’s already started.  

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Star recruit Isaiah Whitehead tweeted out last night that at 2:30 Thursday he will decide between St. John’s, Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Indiana. The Lincoln High standout at one time was seriously considering Syracuse. In the spring Whitehead said SU was his front runner. Many experts felt the Orange may have even been the favorite over the summer when he decided to visit more than once. So where did SU go?

For one, the Orange got a commitment from guard Keleb Joseph last month. So the backcourt has some major talent with him and Tyler Ennis, and maybe Whitehead felt his minutes would be squeezed. On top of that, it appears he wanted to stay close to home, because while SU and Louisville got knocked out, Seton Hall and St. John’s are in his final 5.

Whitehead has shown up in Syracuse news feeds before. Back in November of ’11 his mother said he eliminated SU because of the Bernie Fine allegations. She later recanted after getting Jim Boeheim and Fine confused. Louisville was also considered a favorite but apparently did not make Whitehead’s final five. The consensus top 25 guard has been sought after by many, but the most likely reason SU and UofL did not make the cut was because of two local schools.

St. John’s and Seton Hall jumped into the fray hard. As recently as last month there was buzz Whitehead would choose Syracuse or Minnesota. But over the last two weeks, the Pirates have gotten major love. However, it appears almost everyone feels as though the Red Storm is the favorite to land him today.

James Barrett is Whitehead’s AAU coach and an assistant at Lincoln. He tells Zags Blog:

“Coach [Steve] Lavin, he’s done pretty well at St. John’s since he’s been there, especially like his first year he had Moe Harkless, who was an NBA pro. St. John’s has had a rich history of guards out of New York City.”

Asked if (playing at MSG) appealed to Whitehead, Barrett said, “Oh yes, definitely, especially for his mom to be able to come to all the home games and playing in Madison Square Garden.”

This time last month, the New York Post figured Indiana was a strong candidate to land Whitehead.

“The Isaiah Whitehead sweepstakes has taken a surprising turn – possibly to the Hoosier State. Indiana recently offered the star shooting guard from Lincoln High School a scholarship after incoming shooting guard James Blackmon de-committed. The Hoosiers will play host to Whitehead on an unofficial visit tomorrow.”

Whitehead is the next star in a long line of top flight Lincoln guards like Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson. Whitehead has played his cards close to the vest for awhile, so no one has been able to pin down exactly what he’s looking for. But the common perception is that he’s leaning toward St. John’s after a visit this week and wants to stay close to home, leaving the Pirates and Johnnies. And between the two, St. John’s is a better program, has a popular coach, and plays at the Garden.

Posted: D.A.

19 Comments on this Post

  1. bk su fb fan

    Im a SJU bball fan (tho orange on the gridiron) so you know who I hope lands him

  2. OrangeCrush27

    Notice the trend of NYC players to choose other schools/jump to NBA over SU.

  3. After watching Syracuse take the 4 game tour of Canada and watching Tyler Ennis and Ron Patterson along with Trevor Conney play the guard position,then add Keleb Joseph to the mix,who cares where Isaiah Whitehead commits to play basketball?

    Syracuse is set at the guard position for the next 3-4 years,and didn’t have room for him on this team. I hope he does well no matter where he commits.

  4. Y’all are nuts. YOu can never have too many 5 star guards. I am pretty sure if he came to the Cuse Cooney wouldn’t play. Ennis/Joseph/Whitehead would rotate.

    Either way, its a a moot point as he won’t come to Cuse. Good luck Isiah and choose wisely. Choose education as you never know what can happen.

  5. Boeheim plays his veterans. Always has, always will. Look at this year – Jerami Grant is probably the best NBA prospect on our team, and he will come off the bench. Dion Waiters is a budding star in the NBA, and he never started a game here. Why? All had veterans in front of them. It’s the reason we didn’t get Tobias Harris, and the reason we didn’t get Whitehead. Whitehead clearly wants to be the star of the show and not have to worry about things like playing defense and team basketball. If he came here, he would be in a guard rotation that included Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinijie, Tyler Ennis, Kaleb Joseph, etc…. That’s a lot of room for Boeheim to take Whitehead out of the game for not playing the way Jimmy B wants him too. Also, say what you want about Cooney, but he plays GREAT defense, and he will get better as a shooter. He’s keeping a Jordan Brand AA (Gbinijie) out of the starting lineup. Maurice Harkless was going to be a lottery pick no matter where he went to school. So is Isaiah Whitehead. Plain and simple, why would he come here and have to compete for playing time, when he can go to St. John’s, get as many shots as he wants, and be the man?

  6. You can throw Ron Patterson in that guard mix as well.

  7. If Whitehead is concerned about his minutes being “squeezed and for that reason to not come to Syracuse shows me the kid isn’t tough enough to face competition. He probably is a homeboy so itsSt Johns.bFine let him play for a lower standing school in the Div1 ranks. He can be the big fish in a small bowl.

  8. I wish whitehead the best. Cuse has the guards we need for the next few years….time to look to 2015! Go Cuse

  9. Yeah Boeheim totally always plays his veterans over his star freshmen. Just imagine what would have happened had Boeheim given Gerry and Melo a run in 2003….

  10. OrangeCrush27

    Yeah i mean we could have used him absolutely and wish him the best. But i feel that NYC players have this mindset of getting to the NBA the fastest route possible.

    He will be a big fish in a small pond if he chooses St. Johns or Seton Hall, but i think he will follow the same foot steps as Sebastian Telfair. Short lived career in the NBA, if at all.

  11. Yawn, this shouldn’t be a concern to Orange followers. The schools he’s considering have nothing on the Cuse. Good luck to him, but Orange BB is in great shape, with or without Whitehead………

  12. orangeinva

    I’m hearing Mr Whitehead may be a bit of a handful and not that much of a team guy..We’re probably better off w/out him.

    And while we are playing Duke, NC ST, UNC,
    PITT, LVILLE etc at some pretty nice facilites…and the DOME. You’ve got games at the Carnesecca center on St Johns campus.
    Yeah, there are games at MSG and Barclays..fill ‘em up vs Nova and Seton Hall.

    Good luck Mr Whitehead.

  13. The word I got from asking around amongst reporters with pretty good sources is that it was Syracuse that stopped pursuing Whitehead, not the other way around. The staff wanted one guard for 2014 and they got Kaleb Joseph.

    Following Joseph’s commitment, you may have seen reports saying there was no longer “mutual interest” from Whitehead and SU. When asked about that, Whitehead said he was still considering Syracuse. It was Syracuse that stopped pursuing him.

  14. BK SU FB fan

    I don’t like how this has turned into a referendum on Whitehead’s basketball “character”. I’m in a weird spot because I am a big time fan of the Orange in football, while holding an allegiance to St John’s in bball. Makes for very conflicted Autumns.

    But basically, wherever Whitehead decides to go will hopefully be a beneficial landing spot. I never met him, though I did work a basketball event during his sophomore year(I believe it was the Borough championships). He appeared to be a fairly quiet young man based on my observations. He wasn’t(at that time) the loud and boisterous HS star that we have become accustomed to seeing. So without really knowing the person he is, I’ll withold judging a young HS kid. At the end of the day, these kids(in HS athletics) are making decisions that only superficially impact our everyday lives. They have to live with the choice of schools. They have to feel comfortable with the overall package each school offers. Aside from a 3 hr window on a given day, we don’t even have to pay attention to(or care about) anything these guys do. So as I have said many times in relation to football recruiting(the top NYC prospects that shun the Orange), lets just take these decisions for what they are. Kids making decisions that affect their own lives.

    *I apologize for any grammatical errors and the overuse of ()’s

  15. Buckles-

    Boeheim didn’t have any veterans to play in ’03. We started 2 frosh, 2 sophs, and a senior. The bench consisted of 3 guys – a glue-guy sophomore G/F who was limited offensively and played only sparingly as a freshman (Josh Pace), a redshirt freshman who missed the first 13 games of the season (Billy Edelin), and a junior center who was there mostly for his defense (Jeremy McNeil). Had Edelin not been a total headcase and played his true freshman season, I can almost guarantee you that he would have started at PG instead of Gerry Mac. I’m not saying it would have been the right decision, but I am saying that is how Jimmy B has done it most of the time, and likely would have done it then as well. Yes, Carmelo Anthony was a transcendent player. He would have come in and started over anyone. He’s also probably the only real NBA star to come out of the Cuse. Most guys that come here have to wait their turn, especially considering how well Boeheim has recruited the past 5-7 years. CJ Fair, Kris Joseph, Arinze Onuaku, Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters, Ansy Rautins, Demetris Nichols, James Southerland, Baye Keita, MCW. All guys who waited their turn, and turned out to be really good college players for us (some even better than that). My point is that Whitehead, like many other high school players these days, is used to being the man, can go to a school where to doesn’t have to wait, and likely won’t hurt his draft stock either way. Why would he come here and wait around if he doesn’t want to? The only reason is to win more. If that’s not as important to him as showing off everything he can to NBA scouts without having to compete for playing time, that’s fine. My guess is that the majority of kids these days choose their school for reasons similar to his.

  16. Forget him, get Briscoe!

  17. Since we lost Kenny Anderson, JB will pull plug on PG recruiting once he gets a commitment from that class. That got us Jason Hart and has served SU well over the years. Had Isiah committed earlier, JB would have stopped actively recruiting Joseph. First in wins at PG. Go back and look. JB never recruits 2 studs at PG for any given class.

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