The wait is finally over for Orlando Sanchez, as Dominican forward was ruled eligible by NCAA to resume collegiate career at St. John's. (Photo courtesy of Tim Dimas via Rumble In The Garden)
"Primo" has finally been freed.
After a four-month process that made St. John's fans wonder if, never mind when, Orlando Sanchez would be declared eligible for the Red Storm, the NCAA finally gave the Red Storm program a delayed Christmas present when it announced Sanchez was granted a waiver for one year of eligibility, which he will use in next season's 2013-14 campaign.
The decision, which St. John's confirmed moments ago after it was broken by Kieran Lynch; who covers the Red Storm for the school's student newspaper, The Torch, gives head coach Steve Lavin added frontcourt depth for next season, something that could loom very large should JaKarr Sampson, the likely Big East Rookie of the Year if the season ended today, forgo his remaining three years of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. If Sampson stays, Sanchez becomes the latest piece in a puzzle that figures to have the Johnnies as a potential Top 15 team in the nation in just a few months' time, and perhaps a favorite to win the school's first Big East championship since 2000. "It's big news," Sanchez gushed when informed of the positive ruling. "I'm going to tell them (my family) 'I'm free, I can play.'"
Brought in by Lavin this summer as a transfer from Monroe College in New Rochelle, Sanchez was intended to help Sampson and Chris Obekpa on the St. John's front line while God'sgift Achiuwa redshirted, but was precluded from playing while the NCAA looked into a 2010 contest Sanchez participated in for the Dominican national team, only playing a mere three minutes and thirty-eight seconds, an investigation that ESPN color analyst and attorney in his own right Jay Bilas bemoaned on Twitter over the last week.
St. John's takes on Providence Saturday night at 9pm in a game the Red Storm need to win to keep their slim NCAA Tournament hopes alive.