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Rick Pitino isn’t wasting any time with St. John’s makeover

The wheels are beginning to turn for St. John’s and Rick Pitino, significant activity as the new coach starts to remake his roster.

The new St. John’s coach visited Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains on Wednesday afternoon to get a look at five-star guard Boogie Fland and four-star guard Danny Carbuccia.

Fland is the seventh-ranked player in the 2024 class and No. 2 player in New York, according to the 247Sports recruiting composite.

Pitino and assistant coach Steve Masiello watched practice and are looking to get involved with Fland, a junior who has numerous high-major suitors.

Masiello spoke to Fland’s father, John on Wednesday morning.

“Just the fact that Rick Pitino after one day of having his press conference, to go out there and visit him, it just shows he really wants Boogie,” the elder Fland told The Post. “It shows his mindset. And Boogie is one of his priorities at the moment.”

Kentucky, Alabama, Seton Hall, Michigan, Kansas State and Virginia Tech are heavily involved with the dynamic guard from The Bronx, according to his father.

Rick Pitino is looking to add between 6-8 new players to the St. John's roster for next season.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Fland and Stepinac won the highly competitive Catholic League championship at, ironically, Carnesecca Arena, and will play in this weekend’s State Federation tournament in Albany.

“It was great to have Coach Pitino and his assistant, Coach Masiello, in the gym on their first day-and-a-half on the job,” Stepinac coach Pat Massaraoni said. “The message to Boogie was he’s a big priority for them — him and other top guys in the tristate area are what they are going to be focused on.”

John Fland said his son is keeping his options open and hasn’t begun to narrow down his list of suitors. St. John’s has time to make an impression.

“Everyone knows who Pitino is and what he does,” John Fland said. “He produces pros. He’s a Hall of Famer. His résumé speaks for itself.”

Pitino will be busy in the coming weeks.

He said during his Tuesday press conference he is expecting to add six-to-eight new players to the roster, which means several Johnnies won’t be returning.

The new coaching staff is still in the process of evaluating the holdovers and will begin meeting with those players at the end of the week.

Walter Clayton Jr., who was the MAAC player of the Year under Rick Pitino at Iona and entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, is on St. John's radar.

One of them, sophomore Rafael Pinzon, already entered the transfer portal on Wednesday afternoon.

Pinzon finished the season on an indefinite suspension.

St. John’s has already expressed interest in Iona guard Walter Clayton Jr., the MAAC Player of the Year who entered the transfer portal on Tuesday, and skilled Harvard forward Chris Ledlum of Brooklyn.

Pitino also extended an offer to top junior Carter Bryant, who is ranked fourth nationally by 247Sports and was down to Louisville and Arizona, and highly regarded four-star, top-50 junior Ahmad Nowell.

Senior Garwey Dual, another top-100 prospect, decommitted from Providence after Ed Cooley left for Georgetown and is being targeted by the staff.

The mother of signed four-star recruit Brandon Gardner, Tameka Gordon, told The Post her son planned to remain committed to St. John’s until meeting with Pitino.

Standout center Joel Soriano, who like Fland also attended Stepinac, attended the press conference on Tuesday and said he was going to return. It was a major win for Pitino, who named Soriano captain.

“There’s certain players that are going to fit in with me, certain players that won’t fit in,” Pitino said on Tuesday. “I know Joel fits into what I’m all about, I know [Drissa Traore] fits into the style of play and the character I need. Certain players won’t fit in and should not play for me. They should go to a different place and fit in.”

Additionally, Van Macon, the associate head coach under fired head coach Mike Anderson who recruited most of the roster, is going to stay on with Pitino, according to a source.