St. John’s: What happened to Kassoum Yakwe?

In Chris Mullin’s first year coaching, one of his big recruits was a four-star power forward named Kassoum Yakwe. Yakwe committed to St. John’s on August 23, 2015, and was one of the building blocks in a complete roster overhaul from the previous coaching regime.

His first season showed great promise. Yakwe was raw, but had athletic ability that couldn’t be taught. He showcased a knack for blocking shots, and finished first in the Big East in blocks. His 66 blocks tied for seventh-most in program history.

Never known for his offensive ability, Yakwe played a gritty defensive game. In 2015-2016, Yakwe averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He logged 23.4 minutes per game, and was vital to a team that lacked size.

Now in his third season, Yakwe has all but disappeared. His lack of development last season was a concern, and now it seems like he’s a failed project all together. He’s averaging a measly 2.3 points, and is barely averaging over 12 minutes per game. In the Red Storm’s last five games, Yakwe has played two minutes total. That was in a 77-76 game over DePaul.

Yakwe had been nursing an ankle injury for a portion of the season, but has been deemed healthy for this recent stretch. The 6’7 forward from Mali was highly touted out of Our Savior New American High School in Centereach, New York, so his lack of playing time is very odd.

Is he still nursing an injury that we don’t know about? Doubtful. Has he fallen out of favor with the coaching staff? Did something happen behind the scenes?

Mullin has gone with a six-man rotation, and it has produced good results. However, the Johnnies look gassed late in games, and will not be able to play as intense as they do without resting their players, especially in the Big East Tournament.

If anything, Yakwe can eat some minutes for big-men like Tariq Owens or Marvin Clark II. His lack of playing time is disappointing, and makes you wonder if he’ll return to Queens for his senior year.

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