Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St John’s freshman forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA, it was announced on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-9 Yakwe out of Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New Amerian will be eligible to play when the Red Storm take on Fordham on Dec. 2.
“Great news,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said of Yakwe after his team’s 100-93 win over Chaminade at the Maui Invitational on Wednesday afternoon in which six players reached double-figures in scoring. “He’s a beautiful kid, and I’m happy for him. It’s something that he’s very grateful for everything that he gets. He works hard. He’s a great teammate and very excited about that.”
Yakwe used the same lawyer, Robert Orr, who represented former UCLA star Shabazz Muhammad when the NCAA refused to let Muhammad play early in his college career.
Orr told The New York Times that Yakwe will have to repay $240 to the NCAA for an “extra benefit,” although St. John’s was never told specifically what NCAA violation Yakwe committed.
“The only person who is victimized here is an 18-year-old kid from Africa,” Orr told the Times. “It is just fundamentally wrong.”
Kansas’ Cheick Diallo, who is also a Mali native and also has a relationship with mentor Tidiane Drame,has to repay $165 in extra benefits to the charity of his choice. So the NCAA effectively smeared and harassed both Diallo and Yakwe over approximately $400 in extra benefits.
A top-100 prospect out of high school, Yakwe was named the 2015 EYBL Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year while playing for the PSA Cardinals.
Meantime, St. John’s freshman point guard Marcus LoVett remains out after he was named a partial qualifier on Nov. 11.
“He’s exhausted the appeals process,” a source told SNY.tv. “Absent ‘new information’ of some sort, he’s out [as a partial qualfiier].”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.