His relationship with St. John's was never quite meant to be, and he has found a new home.
Norvel Pelle, the coveted 6'9'' forward out of Long Beach, California, committed to the Iona Gaels on Tuesday night. Pelle had been a member of Steve Lavin's 2011 recruiting class at St. John's before he was deemed academically ineligible last fall. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and WFAN first reported the news.
After a long period of rumors and wondering where Pelle would end up after he decommitted from the Red Storm, the big man is heading to the MAAC where Iona has become a perennial force under head coach Tim Cluess. It was, at a time, believed that Pelle would resurface out west, with San Diego State, Washington, and UNLV as potential landing spots.
More, below the fold.
But as the summer progressed, Iona became a realistic destination for Pelle. After a prosperous 2011-12 season in which the Gaels won 25 games and were selected to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, the mid-major program has become an attraction to national recruits. Pelle visited the school earlier in August.
Pelle's size and athleticism will undoubtedly make him a strong force in the MAAC if he is able to immediately qualify for the upcoming season - and that may be a rather large "if." Pelle's academic issues became a problem at St. John's, and has likely delayed his announcement of a commitment elsewhere for some time.
If Pelle can become eligible for the the upcoming season, the Gaels could become favorites to win the conference. Steve Masiello's Manhattan Jaspers are also expected to be atop the MAAC standings in 2012-13.
Though Iona loses seniors Mike Glover and Scott Machado, they do return a solid roster led by Lamont "Momo" Jones and Sean Armand. If Pelle qualifies, he'll serve as a nice interior complement to Cluess' strong backcourt in New Rochelle. ESPN ranked him 77th in its Top 100 recruits of the 2011 class.
Of the three Johnnies recruits who became ineligible for the beginning of last season, Pelle was the only who will never play a game with the Red Storm. Amir Garrett joined the Storm last December and is entering his second (first full) season with the team and JaKarr Sampson will be one of five newcomers in Queens this fall.