A proverbial recruiting "bullet" has been dodged, perhaps, for Chris Mullin and St. John's; but an issue for what could be the last piece of the 2015 class has emerged, as Our Savior New American High School (OSNA) seems to be under some scrutiny involving the eligibility of their players.
Cheick Diallo - the coveted, top-10 recruit headed for Kansas - is still not deemed eligible by the NCAA. Diallo, a 6'10" rebounding star that St. John's chased with both Steve Lavin and Chris Mullin at the helm, chose the University of Kansas over St. John's. But...
More than three months later, though, Diallo has yet to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center, formerly known as the NCAA Clearinghouse. The issue puts his basketball-playing future at Kansas in question.
The eligibility questions appear to focus Diallo’s time at Our Savior New American School, a private high school in Centereach, N.Y., a town of 31,000 on Long Island. Diallo, a native of Mali, attended the school after coming to the United States to pursue a college basketball career.
Bill Self, the head coach at Kansas, faces another year without a coveted center; last year's top recruit Cliff Alexander also was ruled ineligible, but for financial reasons; he now looks for his pro shot with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile, the Johnnies are pursuing power forward Kassoum Yakwe - a 6'7" post player who would address the team's glaring need of depth in the paint. He is a 2016 forward but looking to reclassify to the 2015 class - meaning he could be on campus in a few weeks, similar to wing Maverick Rowan's situation, the player who chose to reclassify and go to NC State over St. John's.
St Johns will host forward Kassoum Yakwe on official visit August 13-15 per source. #sjubb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) August 5, 2015
Any issues affecting Cheick Diallo's eligibility with respect to the classes taken at OSNA - assumed to be NCAA approved for eligibility - could well affect Yakwe.
And after St. John's late notice about ineligible players Adonis De La Rosa and Keith Thomas crushed the concept of "depth" for Steve Lavin's last team, fans know that an ineligible player is no joke.
More detail from ESPN's Jeff Goodman:
My guess is most of these kids who attended Our Savior New American had NO clue that NCAA hasn't accepted many of the classes.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) August 5, 2015
Interestingly, OSNA classes had been accepted in the past without complaint. Both Chris Obekpa (formerly a shot-blocking force at St. John's, now looking for a new program after transferring in June) and Felix Balamou, the little-used rising senior wing, attended OSNA.
There will be some kind of resolution. After all, another OSNA player was cleared by the NCAA today:
Oklahoma State freshman Davon Dillard has been cleared by the NCAA, Travis Ford told @CBSSports. Dillard attended Our Savior New American.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) August 5, 2015
If Yakwe's classes aren't accepted, he has a year to get his coursework in order, finding classes that the NCAA deems applicable for their core. But St. John's would once again strike out on the program's late player hopes as Chris Mullin and the staff cobble a roster together out of the ruins of recent weak and makeshift recruiting classes.
This year will be a rebuilding effort, nonetheless. But the interior players of Amar Alibegovic, Yankuba Sima, Christian Jones and Darien Williams would likely welcome another player who could spell them.
St. John's will continue to pursue Yakwe; and news of his official visit is a strong sign that he might just decide to take a cab ride to Queens and help out the Red Storm, a team with so many newcomers that anyone could emerge as a Big East star.