Quite possibly the most highly rated recruit to ever join a MAAC program will be playing at Iona this season.
That would be Norvel Pelle, a big man in (according to his brother) from the Kevin Durant mold. How big? Pelle is listed, in news reports as either 6-foot-9, 6-10, 6-11 or 7-0.
He definitely is tall, and certainly Durant-lanky at a reported 210 pounds. And, his game begs the comparison ... a tall athlete who runs the court and does his best work shooting from the perimeter.
Without any doubt, though, Pelle is a very talented player and could immediately ensure that the Gaels don't slip much, if at all, from last year's regular-season MAAC championship/NCAA tournament appearance results.
But ... first, Pelle has to be declared eligible by the NCAA. He was initially slated to attend St. John's last season, but three summer courses he took (summer, 2011) at Northeast Prep School in Philadelphia were not accepted by the NCAA and Pelle never did attend classes at St. John's.
A new ruling from the NCAA on whether he'll be eligible for this season is expected soon. Pelle attended Brewster (N.H.) Academy this past academic year.
Pelle's decision to attend Iona has been reported on a variety of news and recruiting sites. He is expected to officially enroll within a week. Iona, as per NCAA rules, cannot comment on Pelle until classes begin in the fall semester. NCAA rules prohibit schools from commenting on players who have not signed a letter of commitment and the period to do that ended in May.
If Pelle becomes eligible it will give the Gaels an eventual and potential starting lineup that also includes returning guards Momo Jones (whose career began at Arizona State) and Sean Armand (who had a MAAC record 11 three-pointers in a game last season), small forward Curtis Dennis, a transfer from Toledo where he averaged nearly 12 points per game last season, and 6-8 forward David Laury, a multi-skilled transfer from Western Kentucky who becomes eligible after first-semester games.
In terms of talent, it looks to be (at least to this scribe) potentially the league's greatest collection of talent within a program since the La Salle teams of the late 1980's included three future NBA draft picks.
Of course, talent has to mesh and Iona not only will could two new players (Dennis and Pelle, if eligible) at the start of the season, another (Laury) in mid-December and two others (Jones and Armand) both in new roles.
How good is Pelle? As a high school senior during the 2010-11 season he was rated by scouting services as either the No. 1 or No. 2 high school center nationally and 23rd best player nationally.
After de-committing from St. John's, he was also being courted by the likes of Auburn, DePaul and New Mexico State and certainly has the type talent that rarely winds up at a MAAC school.