St. John's Finalizes Five Man Recruiting Class

April 19th, 2007

QUEENS, N.Y. (April 19, 2007) – St. John’s head men’s basketball coach Norm Roberts announced the signing of Mike Cavataio and Paris Horne from the Class of 2007 to National Letters of Intent during this spring signing period. The duo join exceptional local standouts Malik Boothe and Justin Burrell, and formidable prep big man Dele Coker, to comprise a five-man incoming class for the Red Storm.

Malik Boothe G 5-9 185 Fr.-H.S. Rosedale, N.Y. (Christ the King)

Justin Burrell F 6-8 220 Fr.-H.S. Bronx, N.Y. (Our Savior Lutheran/Bridgton Academy (Maine)

Mike Cavataio* G/F 6-4 180 Fr.-H.S. Forest Hills, N.Y. (St. Francis Prep)

Dele Coker F/C 6-10 280 Fr.-H.S. Newburgh, N.Y. (South Kent (Conn.)

Paris Horne* G/F 6-3 180 Fr.-H.S. Middletown, Del. (Middletown/Bridgton Academy (Maine)

*Spring Signees

“Overall, our recruiting class is very good for us,” said Roberts. “We addressed some needs we have for our team – an athletic, low-post presence who really can score the ball and improve our defense with shot-blocking, and we get that with Justin Burrell and Dele Coker. On the perimeter, we wanted to improve our ball-handling, which we did with Malik Boothe. Also, we wanted to improve our ability to create and score from mid-range, and we did that with Mike Cavataio and Paris Horne, who, like Malik, also both bring the athletic ability that we need to be able to pressure more defensively. This past year we played more passively defensively on the perimeter than I would have liked, and these athletes make us a lot quicker defensively and more explosive.”

Mike Cavataio • G/F • Spring Signee

Cavataio, an athletic local swingman from Forest Hills, N.Y., excelled in his senior season at St. Francis Prep just miles away from the St. John’s University campus. A Catholic High School Athletic Association first team selection by the New York Post, Cavataio actually led the CHSAA in scoring in 2006-07 at 25.0 points per game, and helped St. Francis and head coach Tim Leary to an 18-8 record and a spot in the CHSAA quarterfinals. The local product boasts an outstanding mid-range game, rebounds well from his position and is an excellent passer. He will participate on Saturday in the Jordan Capital Classic at Madison Square Garden, alongside St. John’s teammate Boothe.

“Mike will bring the ability to score off the dribble. He has a very good mid-range game, and does a great job of rebounding offensively and defensively,” stated Roberts. “He will be a very good defender because he has very quick feet, and he is a lot more athletic than what people think. I think he is going to help us because he is a guy that is going to be able to score in transition.”

Paris Horne • G/F • Spring Signee

Horne played alongside future Red Storm teammate Burrell in 2006-07 at Bridgton Academy in Maine, whose prep squad posted a 34-5 record and earned the No. 1 national ranking among all prep programs for most of the season. The 6-3 swingman is an extremely athletic slasher and rebounder, possessing the ability to score in transition and knock down mid-range shots. Rated a top 30 prospect at the shooting guard position, Horne averaged 13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 5.0 apg for Bridgton and head coach Whit Lesure last season. He lit up the scoreboard with a season-high 27 points in a victory over Hargrave Military Academy.

“Paris is a super athlete. He is a guy that can become one of the best defenders in the BIG EAST,” Roberts said. “He can do a lot in passing lanes, and I think he is going to be a great defender there. He does a great job of getting to the offensive glass and is a good rebounder. He has a good mid-range game, he does a great job getting to the basket and can create things offensively when there is seemingly nothing there.”

Malik Boothe • G

A pass-first point guard and first team All-CHSAA selection by the New York Post, Boothe is a true floor general and natural leader. At 5-9, 185 lbs., Boothe is lightning-quick on both ends of the floor and a hard-nosed defender. The adept passer and playmaker averaged 8.0 points per game and 4.2 assists last season at national top 25 powerhouse Christ the King High School in Queens, leading his squad to a 26-6 record and the CHSAA title as a senior. Longtime Christ the King coach Bob Oliva rates Boothe as the third-best defensive guard he has ever mentored, behind former UNC standout Derrick Phelps and former USC football star Will Poole.

“Malik had a terrific senior year and we’re really proud of him. His team won the city championship and Malik is the consummate playmaker. He does a great job of getting everybody else involved, and he’ll help us score in transition with good decision-making and the ability to handle the basketball. He can also really help us on the defensive end with our ability to get out and pressure.”

Justin Burrell • F

A versatile, explosive frontcourt player rated among the top 20 power forward prospects in the nation, Burrell averaged 23.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 4.0 bpg and 3.0 apg in leading prep power Bridgton Academy (Maine) to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Championship. A cerebral, powerful forward rated as the No. 2 prep prospect player nationally, Burrell led his squad to a 34-5 overall record and the nation’s No. 1 prep school ranking for most of the 2006-07 season. Coached by Lesure at Bridgton, Burrell averaged 17.4 points, 14.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 1.8 assists as a senior at Our Savior Lutheran in the Bronx (2005-06), where he was coached by Oswald Cross.

“Justin had a great year and proved why he is definitely one of the top 5 prep school players in America. He did a great job defensively, rebounding and scoring, and his team’s winning the NEPSAC had a lot to do with Justin and Paris, who were teammates at Bridgton. I think Justin’s future is unbelievably bright, and the sky is the limit for him with his potential and talent.”

Dele Coker • F/C

An imposing big man rated among the nation’s top 20 center prospects, Coker completed two seasons at South Kent School in Connecticut. As a senior, the 6-10, 280-lb. Nigerian averaged 7.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks as part of a four-man post player rotation. Coker led his squad to a 29-13 record and an appearance in the NEPSAC Class A semifinals, and the big man participated in last weekend’s Schoolboy Classic All-Star Game where the top players from the state of Connecticut square off against New Jersey’s finest. Coker, an intimidating shot-rejector on the defensive end who can face up or play with his back to the basket on offense, was coached at South Kent by Raphael Chillious.

“Dele had a very good year, and played very well down the stretch,” stated Roberts. “Dele gave South Kent a physical inside presence, and a guy who can rebound and block shots. I think Dele is going to be a tremendous inside force for us, rebound the ball, and block shots. We haven’t had a shot-blocker here in quite some time.”

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