St. John’s Sanchez Fighting to Get Extra Year in 2013-14 (UPDATED)

Orlando Sanchez and St. John’s have retained an attorney, Robert Orr, to represent Sanchez in his efforts to get a year of eligibility back in 2013-14, St. John’s spokesman Mark Fratto told SNY.tv Friday night.

As first reported by SNY.tv in January, Sanchez, 24, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA and the case is considered “closed and…final.”

The New York Times revealed in a story on its Website that Sanchez was declared ineligible because he played 3 minutes, 38 seconds with the Dominican Republic national team in 2010.

“I did not know one dream would cost me another,” the 6-foot-9 Sanchez, a native of the Dominican who also lived in Spain before playing for Monroe (N.Y.) College, wrote in a letter to the N.C.A.A. in October.

St. John’s is hoping that the NCAA will give the case another look, even though a source previously told SNY.tv: “The bar is high. Odds are slim at best with new information.”

“The NCAA has an age limit for student-athletes who compete in Division I, which is intended to promote safety and competitive balance among its student-athletes,” St. John’s AD Chris Monasch said. “The NCAA allows for waiver opportunities, based on mitigating circumstances in individual cases. We believe Orlando Sanchez’s circumstances deserve the strongest of consideration. We have been working diligently with the NCAA to gain Orlando eligibility to participate as a student-athlete at St. John’s. At this stage in the process, the University has chosen to support Orlando with legal counsel to assist his cause.”

Said Johnnies head coach Steve Lavin:

“Orlando is a thoughtful, humble and focused young man, who has worked diligently toward his goals. He has been successful as a student with a 3.48 GPA during his time at St. John’s, and has shown both promise and progress practicing as a member of our team throughout the year. Our University continues to work in concert with the NCAA as we have throughout the waiver and appeals process.”

The irony, of course, is that if Sanchez were to come back next season, the Johnnies wouldn’t have any scholarships to give.

As things now stand, if Sanchez doesn’t return, they would have one scholarship to use, assuming no one on the current team leaves or goes pro.

Lavin and his staff spent Thursday night watching 2013 Philly Vaux Roberts guard Rysheed Jordan, who remains their top priority after Jermaine Lawrence picked Cincinnati over St. John’s and UNLV.

Additionally, Lavin opted to redshirt big man God’sgift Achiuwa based on the assumption that Sanchez would play this year. The Johnnies have now gone most of the season without both players, begging the question of whether the calculated risk to redshirt Achiuwa was worth it.

“St. John’s is a great school with great people and I love my coaches and teammates,” Sanchez said. “I just want to represent St. John’s the best that I can in the classroom and on the court. I have dreamed of playing NCAA college basketball and I hope this dream can come true.”

Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter

And like ZAGS on Facebook