Three of St. John's top incoming basketball recruits have been ruled academically ineligible, the school reported on Thursday.
Incoming recruits Amir Garrett, Jakarr Sampson, and Maurice Harkless -- all ranked in ESPN's Top 100 for the Class of 2011 -- have been academically ruled out for the first semester, according to the Big East school. The school hopes to get the trio through the NCAA Clearinghouse and enrolled for the second semester, but it's too early to know whether that's likely to occur.
We are pursuing avenues that may make spring enrollment possible, which could mean they could potentially be on the court in December, said St. John's spokesman Mark Fratto.
The recruiting class, ranked the third best in the nation by ESPN, was expected to help Coach Steve Lavin get St. John's back on the national map. Lavin managed to lead the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament in his first year as coach, but relied heavily on senior leadership and was heavily looking forward to the talent infusion this season.
Jakarr Sampson, ESPN's No. 32 player in the country, might return to Brewster Academy and not bother waiting for the NCAA Clearinghouse, according to CBSSports.
The Johnnies still have talented players coming in, including No. 77 ranked Norvel Pelle, but losing the No. 32, No. 39, and No. 99 best players in the country is a major hit for any basketball program.
St. John's graduated 11 seniors this season and expected to add in eight players for this upcoming season, but now it could be as low as five. The team's highest rated incoming recruit is No. 25 Dom Painter.