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.
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Oliver Cleared to Practice; Crawford’s Appeal Denied; Simpkins Cleared to Play (Updated)
Seton Hall got some good news this week when it learned from the NCAA that 6-foot-11, 340-pound freshman center Melvyn “Big Mel” Oliver would be allowed to practice with the team while he awaits word from the NCAA Clearinghouse on his final status. The news was first reported by an MSG.com blog.
Oliver previously had 14 practices with the team but has not practiced recently while the Clearinghouse reviews his transcripts. Oliver attended four high schools, most recently Mississippi Elite Christian Academy.
“We hope to hear something very soon,” Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez said before the season began. “We’ve very, very optimistic about it. He is a little bit of project. We know he has to lose some weight and get in shape…He’s going to be a guy who could be a big positive for us. We’re all waiting very intently.”
The Pirates (6-1) are currently playing with eight scholarship players while they await word on Oliver and junior guard Keon Lawrence, who transferred from Missouri and is seeking a hardship waiver to play this year. The earliest he could play would be the team’s Dec. 20 game against IUPUI. Seton Hall officials remain hopeful that Lawrence will be cleared to play.
The NCAA did rule Wednesday that Jordan Crawford, who transferred to Xavier from Indiana, would not receive such a waiver and would not be eligible to play this year, ESPN.com reported. Eli Holman, who played at Indiana with Crawford, was denied a similar request to play at Detroit.
Elsewhere, Memphis freshman Matt Simpkins was cleared to play by the NCAA, as per the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
The Tigers are now just waiting on Angel Garcia and could hear by the end of the week.
Simpkins, a 6-9 forward from Oakland, Calif., was rated No. 80 in the class of 2008 coming out of The Patterson School in Patterson, N.C.
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.