After winning just ten games last season, things were expected to get better for Mo Cassara’s Hofstra Pride due to the addition of transfers such as Taran Buie, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Daquan Brown alongside starting point guard Steve Mejia.
And the Pride got a bit deeper in the backcourt on Wednesday as the NCAA granted point guard Shaquille Stokes’ request for a hardship waiver, making him eligible to play immediately.
Stokes, a Harlem native who played his freshman season at Hawaii, decided to return to his home state at the end of last season due to his grandmother’s illness.
“He actually talked about leaving several times earlier in the season, but we talked it through,” Hawaii head coach Gib Anrold said to Warrior Insider back in April. “But this time … he’s close to his grandmother, who helped raise him, and she got sick and took a turn for the worse last week.
“He actually wanted to leave right away, but we told him he needs to finish school if he wants to keep playing, whether it’s here or back home, so that’s what he’s going to do.”
As a result of the NCAA’s ruling Stokes will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2012-13 campaign.
“The ability to be closer to my family in the New York area and help care for them was of the utmost concern,” Stokes said in a statement released by the school.
“I want to thank the NCAA and Hofstra for their assistance with my situation. I look forward to getting my Hofstra degree and having a successful basketball career.”
Stokes started 12 of the 30 games (20.1 minutes/game) he played in at Hawaii last season, averaging 8.4 points and 2.2 assists per game.
Hofstra was picked to finish seventh in the CAA preseason poll, just one season after finishing alone in 11th place with a 3-15 conference record. Adding Stokes to the backcourt rotation (Brown isn’t eligible until the end of the semester) gives the Pride even more depth in that area, something they sorely lacked in 2011-12.
Could this be enough to propel the Pride into the conversation in the middle of the CAA pack with teams such as Northeastern and James Madison? Hofstra fans hope that’s the case.