Steve Lavin, Wally Rutecki

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

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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.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.