Aug. 26, 2011
NEW VIDEO BLOG: The Eye of the Storm: Burrell Signs Professional Contract In Japan
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QUEENS, N.Y. -
St. John's men's basketball grad Justin Burrell will head overseas this fall, becoming the third member of the Class of 2011 to ink a professional deal by signing with a Japanese squad this week. Burrell, the 2011 BIG EAST Conference's Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 6.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in a reserve role, signed a contract with the Yokohama B-Corsairs and will report to the team, located just outside of Tokyo, Japan, in the first week of September.
"Justin's dominating physical style of play in the basket area at both ends of the court was key to our success this past season. He has been a great ambassador of St. John's basketball on our campus and in the community," said Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin. "He will have a terrific experience overseas. Justin has helped us greatly in recruiting future Johnnies, and the St. John's family is pleased that he has received this well-deserved opportunity to play professional basketball."
"I am extra excited. I can't wait to be in a new country and a new city and begin a new chapter in my life." said Burrell, who graduated in May with a degree in Communications. "I will never forget St. John's and the opportunities it gave me and the people I've met. I can't wait to see St. John's back on top of the nation's elite. This past year was an important step, I know everyone will always remember what we accomplished to get everything rolling again."
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. One of five Americans who will play for the B-Corsairs, Burrell will live in downtown Yokohama and will be coached by American Reggie Geary, who starred at Arizona before a two-year stint in the NBA, playing for Cleveland and San Antonio. Burrell and the B-Corsairs will begin their 52-game regular season on Oct. 8 and play through April, followed by the postseason.
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.
In mid-July, Horne signed to play for BG Gottingen, a member of the German Bundesliga, the premier basketball association in that nation. Dwight Hardy, a 2011 Associated Press All-American, a first team All-BIG EAST selection and the conference's Most Improved Player, signed a professional contract with Pistoia Basket in the Tuscany region of Italy, in late July.
Burrell's senior season marked the first year of The 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. Burrell's play and 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.
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