St. John’s Ruben Prey has ‘high ceiling’ and is NCAA ready

St. John’s search for frontcourt depth culminated in the signing of Portuguese forward Ruben Prey on Tuesday night.

But the 6-foot-4 forward with a 7.2 wingspan isn’t just any body.

In time, he could be a difference-maker for coach Rick Pitino, a European scout and European journalist familiar with Prey, told The Post.

Ruben Prey of U18 Joventut Badalona, ​​St. John's new big man, slams home a dunk during the EB Adidas Next Generation Tournament game in May 2023.
Ruben Prey of U18 Joventut Badalona, ​​St. John’s new big man, slams home a dunk during the EB Adidas Next Generation Tournament game in May 2023. Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Some consider him a future NBA prospect.

“I really believe he will make a splash right away. …He is a guy who can contribute immediately because he has been playing against men at the highest level for three years,” Ricardo Brito Reis, a EuroLeague announcer who has also worked with the Portuguese national team, said in a telephone interview Wednesday. . “He is absolutely ready to play in the NCAA.”

St. John’s had recruited the 19-year-old Prey on a one-year deal.

He almost made the team last season, but opted to stay abroad and play for Joventut Badalona, ​​the Spanish club team he has been with since the age of fourteen.

St. John’s remained in contact with Prey and he decided to make the move this week.

It sees him as someone who can play both the 4 and 5, allowing St. John’s to play big at times with Zuby Ejiofor or USC transfer Vince Iwuchukwu in the middle.

Prey previously played on multiple junior national teams for Portugal and was the MVP of the 2023 Adidas Next Generation tournament.

St. John's coach Rick Pitino
St. John’s coach Rick Pitino landed the big man. Jason Szenes for the New York Post

He averaged 8.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in two games in the FIBA ​​Eurobasket 2025 qualifiers for Portugal’s senior national team.

Playing for Joventut Badalona of the Liga ACB, the top league in Spain, he averaged three points and three rebounds in 12 minutes per game.

On Joventut Badalona’s backup team CB Prat, which plays in Spain’s third division, he recorded 11.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 24.8 minutes.

Ignacio Rissotto, who covers international youth basketball events for FIBA ​​and specializes in international NBA prospects, said one of Prey’s strengths is his ability to put the ball on the floor and be a weapon in pick-and- rolls as a roller or in pick-up. and-pop situations.

One European scout, who requested anonymity, raved about Prey’s motor and ability to get up and down for someone his size, often beating other centers in the lower lane.

“The best part is he can run the field like crazy,” the scout said. “For the transition game, he’s incredible. He’s 6-10, 6-11 and he can run like a guard.”

The 210-pound prey needs to build some muscle mass.

The scout said consistency is sometimes an issue, and his perimeter shot needs work.

But he clearly has a high ceiling. BYU, Kentucky and Nebraska were also interested in him, according to sources, but St. John’s had an inside track based on previous dialogue between the two sides.

“He is a 6-foot-1 guy with great speed, lateral movement and he can defend multiple positions. He is a good rim protector,” said Brito Reis. “Offensively he is very versatile. He can dribble, he runs the floor really well – he’s a great rim runner – and when they have to play in the half court, he’s a guy who can play outside or inside, (with his) back to the basket. He needs to develop his left-hand dribbling, but he has great court awareness and he is developing his three-point shot.”

Rissotto added: “St. John has someone with a very high ceiling.’

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