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The bomb drops: St. John's freshmen Sampson, Pelle, Garrett all ineligible (updated w/ quotes)

With such a big recruiting class, one expects some losses through transfer, and maybe a player not qualifying.

We knew it was a real possibility to have a player or two not qualify when CBS Sports wrote that center Norvel Pelle and forward Amir Garrett were reported to not be through the NCAA clearinghouse.

Today, Roger Rubin of the NY Daily News tweeted:

St. John’s recruits Sampson, Pelle and Garrett not thru clearinghouse as expected; Won’t play fall sem.; Spring sem, still possible.

Which is an even worse case scenario. Forward Jakarr Sampson as well? The number of players is a blow and shocking; and the quality and size of the players is as well for a small and young team. I guess the Lindy's and Sporting News previews are out of date.

Ramifications, after the jump.

The news that the 6'10 Norvel Pelle, the 6'8 Jakarr Sampson, and the 6'6" Amir Garrett all failed to qualify is shocking, since St. John's seemed to be confident that all the Red Storm players would qualify.

But even more importantly, those are all the players who could theoretically play in the post with the 6'8" God'sGift Achiuwa.

"The NCAA Eligibility Center informed us this afternoon that after a review, these three PSAs [Prospective Student Athletes] cannot qualify at this time," said Director of Athletics Chris Monasch states in the official release from the school. "The University has been proactive and diligent in assisting in the reviews for each of our incoming men’s basketball student-athletes. We will continue to review what avenues the student-athletes may have to achieve their initial eligibility."

Coach Steve Lavin adds, “We are hopeful that Amir, Norvel and JaKarr will be able to join us on the court this winter, and in the classroom when the 2012 spring semester begins.”

A look at the St. John's recruiting class, with the missing players x'ed out:

St. John's 2011 Recruiting class
Player Pos Ht Wt School Rivals RK Chg Scout Rk Chg ESPN Rk
Sir'Dominic Pointer SF 6'6" 195-210 Quality Education (NC) 
Jakarr Sampson SF/PF 6'8" 190-200 Brewster (NH)  
Maurice Harkless SF 6'6" 180-200 South Kent (CT) 
D'Angelo Harrison SG 6'3" 180-190 John Foster Dulles (TX) 
Norvel Pelle PF/C 6'9" 200-210 Price (CA)  
Amir Garrett SF 6'6" 175-190 Findlay (NV) 
Philip Greene G 6'2" 170-180 IMG (FL)
Nurideen Lindsey G 6'3" 175-185 Redlands CC (OK)
God's Gift Achiuwa F/C 6'9" 230-240 Erie CC (NY)

Three forwards. Left are a couple of small forwards, a center, and a trio of guards, and Malik Stith.

The impact of the loss of those three on a team that was already small and in need of help in the paint can't be understated. Jakarr Sampson was expected to be a 3/4 hybrid, using his length to rebound and block shots. Pelle was going to be the shot blocking post and speedy runner at the center position. Amir Garrett proved willing to play in the paint at Findlay Prep High School (who claimed to never have a player not be eligible in their short existence).

Even more than before, it's lacking in big bodies to match up against the rest of the Big East. What's left up front is the slim Maurice Harkless, and the strong-bodied wing Sir'Dominic Pointer (who was an eligibility worry coming out of Quality Education Academy, himself).

What will the Johnnies do? The extended pressure and matchup zone defenses will help the small and young team keep the ball out of the paint, but facing teams like Kentucky, Detroit, and Arizona will be extremely difficult with only God'sGift in the post.

And if you've played basketball and you're attending St. John's and are 6'5" and above, maybe you should swing by the basketball offices and offer your services.This isn't the decimated roster of Norm Roberts' first year, but those are major personnel losses to overcome.

More on the story as it unfolds.

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