St. John’s has had a rough preseason. First, it lost by 32 to Division II St. Thomas Aquinas in an exhibition game. Now, it’s likely going to be without possibly its best recruit for the season.
Red Storm freshman guard Marcus LoVett has been deemed a partial qualifier for the 2015-16 season, which basically means that he can practice with the team but cannot play in games. The ruling stems from an investigation into LoVett’s academic credits in high school, as the six-foot point guard attended three different schools.
In the announcement, St. John’s interim athletic director said that the school disagrees with the decision.
“The University disagrees with the NCAA’s decision and the process it used in reviewing Marcus’ initial eligibility waiver request,” said St. John’s interim athletic director and general counsel Joseph Oliva, Esq. “We have engaged in several conversations with the NCAA to express our concerns that their process may have violated Marcus’ legal rights. Unfortunately, it appears that the NCAA elected to disregard these concerns. We have advised Marcus and his family to consult with appropriate legal counsel about the options that may be available to challenge the NCAA ruling and the standards it applied in this process.”
According to the New York Post, LoVett will ‘likely hire a lawyer’ and explore his legal rights here. His coach, Chris Mullin, also expressed his disappointment with the NCAA’s conclusion.
“Marcus and his family have been patient throughout this lengthy process,” said St. John’s Head Coach Chris Mullin. “Marcus deserves to play and has done everything asked of him. Our staff is here to encourage Marcus as he continues to work hard on and off the court to be prepared to compete next season.”
Mullin will certainly be hoping that the appeals process gets them further than the NCAA’s investigation did, as LoVett was likely going to be the Johnnies’ starting point guard this season and most explosive offensive weapon. Without him, the team will turn to Federico Mussini, an Italian guard who has a lot of potential, but is still rather skinny and might not quite be ready for the rigors of college hoops.
The Red Storm is also still awaiting word on Kassoum Yakwe, another freshman with academic eligibility concerns due to his time at Our Savior New American, the same school as Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo. Yakwe is a 6-8 power forward who is highly regarded for his athleticism, and could also end up starting by the end of the year if things break right for him.
But simply put, the LoVett decision is just another crushing blow in what is already turning out to be a rough season in Queens.
St. John’s opens its season on Friday against Wagner.