Orlando Sanchez

St. John’s Orlando Sanchez hires Shabazz Muhammad’s attorney to fight NCAA

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St. John’s forward Orlando Sanchez played a total of three minutes and thirty-eight seconds with the Dominican National Team in 2010 and, as the NCAA ruled in January, that is apparently enough to cost him his final year of college eligibility.

Sanchez, 24, was a highly touted and versatile forward prospect when he signed with St. John’s in April 2012, part of another strong recruiting class for coach Steve Lavin in Queens. He has since been forced to sit as his Red Storm teammates push for an NCAA tournament berth.

According to NCAA rules, a year of organized competition after the age of 21 counts as a year of eligibility. Thus, he had previously played two years at Monroe College and eight games with a Dominican amateur club team in 2009. That together makes three, plus the NCAA’s assertion that his time with the Dominican team would have used up his available eligibility.

From the New York Times:

If the rules are applied without flexibility, the ramifications can be harsh, said Jason Lanter, an assistant professor of psychology at Kutztown University and a former president of the Drake Group, an N.C.A.A. watchdog. “You are at the whims of the N.C.A.A.,” he said. “They are the judge, jury and executioner.”

St. John’s and Sanchez have now retained the legal counsel of Robert Orr, who was hired by UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad when he was accused by the NCAA of taking impermissible benefits and held out of competition earlier this season.

“Orlando is a thoughtful, humble and focused young man, who has worked diligently toward his goals,” Lavin said in a statement. “He has been successful as a student with a 3.48 GPA during his time at St. John’s, and has shown both promise and progress practicing as a member of our team throughout the year. Our University continues to work in concert with the NCAA as we have throughout the waiver and appeals process.”

If Sanchez’s case is reopened and he wins the appeal, the Red Storm have one open scholarship remaining. They are actively recruiting Philadelphia point guard Rysheed Jordan and senior forward God’sgift Achiuwa is redshirting this season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.