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NCAA grants St. John’s forward Orlando Sanchez one year of eligibility

Steve Lavin, Wally Rutecki

St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin talks with referee Wally Rutecki in the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)


St. John’s received some good news on Thursday afternoon, as the school announced that the NCAA has granted forward Orlando Sanchez one season of eligibility.

Sanchez will not see the court this season however, as he’ll use his one year in 2013-14.

So why would the fact that Sanchez, who according to the New York Times was essentially being punished over three-plus minutes he played for the Dominican Republic’s national team in 2010, will play just one season be seen as good news?

Because it was feared that he would never be allowed to take the court in a St. John’s uniform.

Under the N.C.A.A.’s eligibility calculations, Sanchez used two years of eligibility when he played junior college basketball at Monroe College in New York from 2010 to 2012, and another year when playing eight games with a Dominican amateur club team in 2009, after he turned 21, lawyer Robert Orr said. His fourth and final year was used when he played with the national team in 2010, Orr said.

“It seems to be a punitive, unfair rule, all wrapped up in the idea that we can’t have schools with older players,” Orr, who is representing Sanchez, said, noting that under the N.C.A.A.’s interpretation, Sanchez used two years of eligibility despite playing with Monroe and the Dominican national team in the same calendar year.

Sanchez is just one of two upperclassmen in the St. John’s front court with the other being senior God’sgift Achiuwa, who is redshirting this season and will graduate in the spring. Achiuwa would have a season of eligibility remaining should he return in 2013-14, and the Red Storm also have talented youngsters such as freshmen Chris Obekpa and JaKarr Sampson and sophomores Amir Garrett and Sir’Dominic Pointer.

St. John’s has yet to land a commitment in the 2013 class, and who returns for the 2013-14 campaign will impact what the Red Storm look to do in the spring.

But at the very least St. John’s will have Sanchez available next season, and given the road he’s traveled on the way to Queens it’s good to see the NCAA declare him eligible to play.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.