May 3, 2012
QUEENS, N.Y. - Men's basketball grad Justin Burrell, the 2011 BIG EAST Conference's Sixth Man of the Year, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Basketball Japan League on Thursday. Burrell averaged 18.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game for the Yokohama B-Corsairs, who earned a second-place finish in the Basketball Japan Eastern Conference with a 31-21 record headed into the postseason.
"It is an honor to be named MVP of the B.J. League. I am so happy to bring this award to a great up and coming franchise like the B-Corsairs," said Burrell, who graduated in May 2011 with a degree in Communications.
Burrell was also named the league's MVP for the month of April, and a member of league's "Best Five team," as voted upon by players, coaches and league officials.
Yokohama, one of four expansion franchises in the Basketball Japan League (one of two Japanese leagues, this one allowing for more U.S. players), is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture on Tokyo Bay just outside of Tokyo, Japan. One of five Americans who play for the B-Corsairs, Burrell lives in downtown Yokohama and is coached by American Reggie Geary, who starred at Arizona before a two-year stint in the NBA, playing for Cleveland and San Antonio.
The 6-9, 244-pound, Bronx-native Burrell, a member of the 2008 BIG EAST All-Freshman team, became St. John's 47th all-time 1,000-point scorer in 2010-11. Along with teammates D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne, he was one of three St. John's players on the 2010-11 squad that reached the 1,000-point plateau, finishing his career with 1,006 career points. His 609 career rebounds rank 30th all-time in school history.
Burrell is one of several members of the Class of 2011 experiencing success in professional basketball. After playing most of the 2011-12 season with the NBDL's Erie BayHawks, Kennedy recently became St. John's second active NBA player on April 21. Kennedy appeared in two games with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 29.5 minutes, 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.
Dwight Hardy, a 2011 Associated Press All-American, a first team All-BIG EAST selection and the conference's Most Improved Player, has been playing with Pistoia Basket in the Tuscany region of Italy. Hardy has appeared in 28 games and averages 35.8 minutes per contest, leading the team in scoring at 22.6 ppg and drilling 34.6 percent of his 3-pointers.
Horne (34 games, 31.2 mpg, 10.1 ppg) and Sean Evans (26 games, 22.1 mpg, 9.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) signed to play for BG Gottingen, a member of the German Bundesliga, the premier basketball association in that nation.
Justin Brownlee averaged 8.0 ppg and 4.9 rebounds in 50 games this season for the Maine Red Claws, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers, located in Portland, Maine.
The Class of 2011's senior season marked the first year of The Steve Lavin Era, which included a 21-12 overall record in 2010-11 - marking St. John's most wins since the 2002-03 season - with six Top 25 victories and four over Top 10 opponents. Lavin's leadership helped transform a team that finished in 13th place in the BIG EAST Conference last season at 6-12 to a squad that tied for third in 2010-11 at 12-6 - only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in BIG EAST Conference history. The Red Storm finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01. The Red Storm, which posted a 7-1 record in eight regular season games at Madison Square Garden (capacity: 19,353) and a 5-2 record on campus at Carnesecca Arena (capacity: 5,602) saw its home attendance climb by 38.1 percent, marking the fourth-largest increase in NCAA Division I men's basketball.