Steve Lavin has already made a splash at St. John's - and proven he can recruit top West Coast talent to New York City.
St. John's landed a commitment from Dwayne Polee, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Los Angeles Westchester on Thursday, a big-time pickup for Lavin, who took over for Norm Roberts and used to coach at UCLA.
Polee, a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, had also considered Oregon and Georgia. He confirmed his commitment through a text message Thursday. He said in a follow-up message that Lavin and the whole coaching staff were the reasons why he picked the Red Storm.
"With Lavin as the head coach, St. John's now has a reach from coast to coast," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer said. "Not only will it be an attractive place to East Coast basketball players but Lavin's ties to the West Coast will help lure West Coast talent to The Big Apple as is the case with Polee."
Polee committed to Southern Cal as a freshman but then re-opened his recruitment after the Trojans made a coaching change last year.
He visited Oregon and new coach Dana Altman last weekend and was also seriously considering Georgia where coach Mark Fox still has West Coast connections from his Nevada coaching days.
But Lavin's West Coast ties were a major bonus and Dwayne Polee, Sr., told The Los Angeles Times that his son "was in love with coach Lavin" and that "Lavin is a West Coast guy and he was comfortable with him."
UTEP, which recently hired coach Tim Floyd, and UNLV were also considered, according to multiple reports. However, in the end, St. John's won out mainly because of Lavin and his ability to improve Polee's game.
"Polee is one of the more athletic players in the 2010 class so that alone makes him a very intriguing prospect," Meyer said. "He has work to do as far as developing his skills but I expect him to really improve during his time in college."