NEW YORK -- St. John's starting guard Nurideen Lindsey has decided to transfer to another school, effective at the end of this semester.
"This was a mutually agreed-upon decision that Nuri's pursuit of other opportunities is in the best interest of all parties," coach Steve Lavin said in a statement released by the school. "We appreciate Nuri's contributions to our program. He is a basketball player with a bright future. Our basketball family supports Nuri as he moves in a new direction."
"I came to St. John's for a couple of reasons. One was to be close to my mom, whose health has been up and down due to some past experiences. The second was to play for Coach Lav," said Lindsey in the statement. "In both instances it has not worked out how I envisioned."
"I think Coach Lav is an amazing coach, and person. He could have taught me so much," Lindsey continued. "I love St. John's and appreciate all the love and support from the staff and school. I think this team will be special. I think what I'll miss most about St. John's is miss my teammates. Those guys are like my brothers. So I will continue to support St. John's and my brothers. Thank you for the memories, regardless of how brief."
Lindsey, a sophomore in his first year with the Red Storm after a year at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, had started in all nine games so far this season. He was third on the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) and led the team in assists (2.9 per game).
The 6-foot-3 point man made a big splash in his Division I debut, with a team-high 19 points in a win over William & Mary. He scored in double figures in the team's first five games, including a near-triple double against UMBC (15 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists).
But Lindsey had struggled of late, reaching double digits in just one of the past four games. Against Texas A&M at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 18, with St. John's trailing by a point and 2.3 seconds left, Lindsey missed a pair of free throws, leading to a gut-wrenching loss. And he scored just a single point in a blowout loss at No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 1.
The loss of Lindsey is a crippling blow to St. John's, which was already short-handed this season, with just eight scholarship players (one of whom is a former walk-on). And it is just the latest surprise in what has been a tumultuous first semester, to say the least.
In September, three of Lavin's nine incoming recruits -- JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle and Amir Garrett -- were declared academically ineligible for the fall semester. Sampson and Pelle have since officially decommitted from St. John's and reopened their recruitment. Garrett could still potentially join the Red Storm for the second semester, an addition that would be even more important in the wake of Lindsey's departure.
And Lavin himself has been away from the team for much of the past two months, recuperating from Oct. 6 prostate cancer surgery. Lavin missed the Nov. 7 season opener against William & Mary, returned to coach the team two nights later against Lehigh and coached the next three games as well, but then decided to take an indefinite leave of absence from the sideline, saying he had come back prematurely and needed to build up more physical stamina before returning full-time.