St. John's University's Top-3 nationally-ranked basketball class just got knocked down a few spots. Incoming 2011-12 recruits JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle and Amir Garrett have yet to be approved by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse and will not be eligible to play during the fall semester.
Head coach Steve Lavin announced Thursday that the three student-athletes-- one-third of his lauded nine top freshmen recruits-- are unable to qualify for the 2011 fall semester.
They won't be enrolled for this semester and remain "under review" by the NCAA committee. They were expected to have received clearance by the NCAA by this time.
The university is in its third week of classes and will work with the NCAA to review the three cases for possible enrollment in spring 2012.
Lavin said, "We are hopeful Amir, Norvell and JaKarr will be able to join us on the court this winter and in the classroom when the spring 2012 semester begins."
All three are consulting with their families and reviewing their options. There is a good chance they could still be approved and be on the court in late December after the fall semester ends. The team would have played 10 games by then.
These aren't just any incoming freshmen.
Garrett is from California but played for Findlay prep in Henderson, Nev.. The 6-foot-6, 190 pound offensive threat was rated as high as the 68th best over-all player in the country and the #15 power-forward. The left-handed pitcher was the 22nd-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds and signed a minor league contract in the off-season.
Pelle was a standout power-forward from Los Angeles and he was rated the #2 center in the country. The 6-foot-10, 200 pounder is a shot-blocking machine.
Sampson is a 6-8 swingman who starred in Akron at St. Vincent's-St. Mary's-- LeBron James high school-- before transferring. He was rated as high as the #11 combo-forward in the country.
Lavin will begin his second year with the Red Storm after rejuvenating the sinking program last season. After taking the team to its first NCAA tournament since 2002, he announced he was battling prostate cancer.