Sept. 15, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's University head coach Steve Lavin announced Thursday that prospective men's basketball student-athletes Amir Garrett, Norvel Pelle and JaKarr Sampson will be unable to qualify for the 2011 fall semester. With St. John's now in the third week of classes, the University will continue to work in concert with the NCAA to review the cases of the student-athletes this fall for potential enrollment in the spring of 2012.
"We will continue to work with the NCAA in an effort to review Amir, Norvel and JaKarr's cases regarding their eligibility. Our student-athletes and their families have been patient and cooperative throughout this review process," said Lavin. "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."
St. John's will continue to work with the NCAA Eligibility Center during the fall semester to attempt to secure spring enrollment for all three student-athletes. If granted, the first time Garrett, Pelle and Sampson would be able to participate in Red Storm team practice would be Dec. 19, with their first potential game participation on Dec. 21 vs. Texas Pan-American.
"The NCAA Eligibility Center informed us this afternoon that after a review, these three PSAs cannot qualify at this time," said Director of Athletics Chris Monasch. "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."
The 6-6, 190-pound Garrett is rated as high as the nation's No. 68 overall player and the No. 15 small forward by recruiting services. With superior athleticism and a prototypical frame, Garrett is a tenacious offensive threat who specializes in transition with hard drives to the rim that result in show-stopping dunks. A hard-nosed defender who has a penchant for swatting away shots, Garrett transferred to Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) for his final season and averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds on a team that would go 28-4, earn a Top 25 national ranking and yield four NCAA Division I prospects. Garrett's coach at Findlay was Mike Peck. His travel teams were Double Pump and Belmont Shore. As a junior, he led Leuzinger High (Lawndale, Calif.) to the California Interscholastic Federation SS Division I-A championship in 2009-10, averaging 16.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He was named CIF SS Division I-A Co-Player of the Year and tabbed for the first-ever Cal-Hi Sports all-state team. The Long Beach Press-Telegram named Garrett to its 2010-11 "Best in the West" First Team, along with Pelle.
Garrett, a Los Angeles, Calif., native, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 22nd Round on June 7, signed hours before the MLB deadline on Aug. 15 and rewarded for his promise of prowess with a handsome $1 million bonus. He will begin his professional baseball dream next summer as a member of the Reds' minor league system. Garrett's contract and concurrent NCAA rules allow him the chance to play both collegiate basketball and professional baseball.
Rated as high as the nation's No. 2 center and the No. 23 prospect overall by recruiting services, Pelle utilizes his 6-10, 200-pound frame and superior jumping ability to make him one of the country's best shot blockers and most dominant inside players. He is extremely quick for his size and his high motor around the rim generates a great deal of scoring off the offensive glass. Hailing from Compton, Calif., Pelle has face-up skills in the paint and a deceptive first step to the bucket. He played at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., (the same school that produced NBA standouts such as Tayshaun Prince and Tyson Chandler) from 2007-09. Pelle transferred to Price High School and sat out his 2009-10 junior season due to transfer rules, but was a member of the 2009-10 USA Basketball Developmental National Team. Playing for Mike Lynch at Price in 2010-22, Pelle led the Knights to a 23-8 record. The Long Beach Press-Telegram named Pelle to its 2010-11 "Best In The West First Team." Pelle played summer ball for the Compton Magic, and scored 10 points for the Got NeXt team at the NeXt All-American Classic, playing alongside St. John's freshman Phil Greene.
Sampson, a 6-7, 190-pound combo forward from Akron, Ohio, is rated as high as the No. 11 player at his position and the No. 31 overall prospect in his class. Averaging 14.0 points per game and 8.0 rebounds at St. Vincent-St. Mary as a junior in 2009-10 - the same high school attended by NBA star LeBron James - Sampson played summer basketball for the King James Shooting Stars, named for his hometown hero. The long, athletic, slashing scorer, noted shot-blocker and prolific offensive and defensive rebounder competed at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., in 2010-11. A first team All-NEPSAC performer, he led his squad to a 31-3 record, while averaging 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per outing for coach Jason Smith. Playing for the East Team alongside St. John's freshman Maurice Harkless and competing against D'Angelo Harrison in the inaugural All-American Classic in Houston at the 2011 Final Four, he scored 10 points on 4-of-9 field goals and added four boards and a steal.
Lavin's 2011-12 St. John's squad will feature the consensus No. 3 recruiting class in the nation, but will be the youngest in 104 years on the STJ hardwood and will rank among the youngest in NCAA Division I history. For Lavin, the 2011-12 group marks the fourth time in his career he has assembled a top three class - in 1998 and 2001 Lavin recruited the No. 1 class in the nation while at UCLA, and his 1997 class ranked second nationally.