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St. John's forward Keith Thomas ruled ineligible

The Johnnies take a big hit in the frontcourt.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of last season, the St. John's Red Storm looked to be a team in serious need of rebounding help with only question marks on the horizon.

After a promising offseason, the Johnnies are almost back where they ended last March. Keith Thomas, the standout forward from Westchester Community College, has been ruled ineligible for the season. Steve Lavin and the Johnnies will search for answers to the departed rebounding and defense from last season.

Thomas, 23, came to St. John's as junior college's leading rebounder. At 6'8", Thomas was expected to contend for a starting spot in the Red Storm frontcourt, decimated by the graduations of Orlando Sanchez and God`sGift Achiuwa, along with the early departure of sophomore Jakarr Sampson, now on the Philadelphia 76ers roster.

"Academic integrity is treated very seriously at St. John’s University and we are committed to maintaining high academic standards for all of our student-athletes," said Director of Athletics Chris Monasch in a press release. "Our athletic compliance office recently became aware of information that triggered an additional review of Thomas' academic credentials at Westchester Community College. Our assessment and decision are in accordance with University and NCAA policies."

Thomas was originally declared eligible before the transcript fraud at Westchester Community College came to light via a Journal-News investigation.

"We share Keith’s disappointment and as a basketball family will provide moral support during this challenging time in his life. Keith clearly has a bright future in basketball and is determined to ultimately further his education," said head coach Steve Lavin.

And it looks like Thomas is gone from St. John's for good; if the Red Storm thought he could come back, he could redshirt for the year and play next season. That does not seem to be in the cards.

St. John's has some size left, and an excellent backcourt.  But after a quiet 2014 recruiting effort, the big men remaining are more "potential" than "instant impact players" like Keith Thomas was believed to be.

Center Adonis Delarosa will need some time to acclimate to college hoops and get into better shape. Joey Delarosa, Adonis' brother who may not be eligible until December, was not an impact player at Florida International, but is tall. Christian Jones, the sophomore who redshirted, needs to be more aggressive and has missed practices while recovering from injury. New Bosnian freshman Amar Alibegovic is promising but known more for his shooting.

Expect the Johnnies to play Sir`Dominic Pointer at the 4 spot and play small ball with Chris Obekpa at center.

Who will rebound? With none of the remaining players strong at rebounding the defensive end, players will need to step up to end the Red Storm's NCAA Tournament drought.