Last week, St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin announced that incoming freshmen Amir Garrett, Norvel Pelle and Jakarr Sampson will be unable to play during this fall semester. After losing 10 seniors from last year’s squad, this news serves as a major hit to St. John’s Basketball. With Malik Stith being the only returning player from last year, Coach Lavin was planning on building a brand-new system compiled of young talent.
“We will continue to work with the NCAA in an effort to review Amir, Norvel and Jakarr’s cases regarding their eligibility,” said Lavin in a statement. “Our student-athletes and their families have been patient and cooperative throughout this review process. We are hopeful that Amir, Norvel and Jakarr will be able to join us on the court this winter, and in the classroom when the 2012 spring semester begins.”
Spirits haven’t been too high about the basketball program around campus lately, mainly because the Johnnies don’t have any returning familiar faces. However, Red Storm fans had faith in their incoming freshman class, which was rated the third best in the nation. Now with Garrett, Pelle and Sampson out for the first 10 games, feelings are even more skeptical than they were beforehand. Even when they are able to return, it’s hard to believe that they will have an immediate impact. Not only does this hold back the team’s success this season, it could slightly damage Lavin’s reputation as a recruiting genius.
“The NCAA Eligibility Center informed us this afternoon that after a review, these three PSAs cannot qualify at this time,” said Director of Athletics Chris Monasch. “The University has been proactive and diligent in assisting in the reviews for each of our incoming men’s basketball student-athletes. We will continue to review what avenues the student-athletes may have to achieve their initial eligibility.”
Being a student at St. John’s, this news doesn’t serve as much of a surprise. Things have been noticeably different this year regarding the basketball program, as it would at any school losing 10 seniors and bringing in nine new players. Normally, the basketball team would be making appearances at every event on campus, out mingling with the fellow students on the strip, and even playing pickup in Taffner every now and then; but this year, that hasn’t been the case.