By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — For the second consecutive season St. John’s star L.J. Figueroa has entered the transfer portal, but this time around it appears he could be close to choosing a new college destination for his final season of eligibility.
It’s also the second year in a row the Arkansas Razorbacks have shown interest in Figueroa (6-6, 195), and multiple sources over the past week have confirmed that head coach Eric Musselman has spoken at least twice with him since May 29 as the highly coveted wing closes in on his decision.
According to source information provided on Thursday, Auburn and Oregon are currently in the lead and Figueroa “could make an announcement in the next 4 to 5 days.”
Figueroa reportedly has also received significant interest from Memphis, Texas Tech, Dayton, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, and UCLA among others.
When Figueroa made the decision to enter the portal last year following his sophomore season with the Red Storm (2018-19), he flirted with the idea of visiting Arkansas under the new leadership of Musselman before ultimately electing to remain at St. John’s for his junior season under new Red Storm head coach and former Head Hog Mike Anderson.
Figuero also currently has his name in the NBA Draft pool, although his recent decision to enter the portal likely signifies that he plans to return to college — albeit at a new school — for his senior season. Barring a waiver from the NCAA for immeditate eligibility, Figueroa would sit a redshirt-transfer season in ’20-21 with one season to play in ’21-22.
Figueroa started all 32 games in ’19-20 and averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.9 steals in 28.3 minutes per game while shooting 37.9% from the field (including 72-of-197 from 3 for 36.5%) and 66.3% from the free throw line. He scored 20 or more points six times as a junior, including a career-high 28 points in a 79-66 win over DePaul in January.
As a sophomore in ’18-19, Figueroa started 32 of 34 games and averaged 14.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.8 steals in 32.0 minutes per game while shooting 51.3% from the field (including 51-of-133 from 3 for 38.3%) and 62.7% from the free throw line.
With Arkansas star guard Isaiah Joe still in the NBA Draft pool with a pushed-out NCAA deadline for underclassmen to withdraw no later than 10 days after the NBA draft combine or by August 3 — whichever comes first — Musselman has continued to evaluate transfer options as he considers both perimeter and frontline prospects.