Amir Garrett cleared to play for St. John's

Small forward Amir Garrett is reportedly cleared to start his St. John's basketball career - the wait is over. From Jeff Goodman:

Garrett's father, Darrow Garrett, confirmed the news to CBSSports.com on Tuesday night...

Jakaar Sampson returned to prep school, Norvelle Pelle has opted to commit to UNLV - but Garrett, a two-sport star, has stuck with his pledge and his father said he could play as early as Wednesday night.

"I'm happy he's now at St. John's and can play basketball," Garrett's father said.

The Red Storm have been waiting for the news for some time. Garrett, one of three recruits deemed initially ineligible by the NCAA this fall, has been steadfast in his desire to come and play for Steve Lavin's Red Storm this season, despite having options to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds as a left-handed pitcher.

He was selected in the 22nd round of the MLB draft and received a $1 million signing bonus, but will need years to develop as a pitcher. On the baseball side, he will likely start in short-season leagues that do not conflict with the basketball season.

In recent months, Garrett did course work at Bridgton Academy to gain eligibility, while playing with 2012 verbal commit Darrick Wood.

The news of his eligibility is great news for the depleted Red Storm, who played all six scholarship players against Fordham, with five logging more than 30 minutes in the 56-50 win over the Rams.

But Amir Garrett, a 6'6" wing, won't be an immediate savior for the program. There's no word as to whether he will be able to suit up tomorrow against Texas-Pan American; being ineligible to participate, he hasn't practiced with the team.

And he won't have the luxury of starting off against CW Post, William and Mary, and the like. He'll see much of his extended action against Big East opponents.

Garrett's raw athleticism doesn't address the painfully young Red Storm's needs for height and rebounding in the post, or for point guard play, or for additional shooting from the perimeter.

Once his conditioning is at collegiate levels, Amir Garrett will bring a lot of energy, a desire to defend, an ability to finish, and hopefully the versatility he showed at Findlay Prep. At Findlay, he willingly played defense in the paint despite giving up height and girth.

At the very least, Garrett's presence allows a few breathers for the "power forward" rotation of Moe Harkless and Sir`Dominic Pointer. It's a long year that has seen a lot of bad news for the Red Storm.

But getting Garrett on the court is a ray of light as the young team develops skills on the court and chemistry off of it.

The next good news the fan base would love to hear? That Coach Steve Lavin is hale, healthy, and able to return to coaching action.

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