The Iona men's basketball team might only have four returnees from last year's regular-season conference championship team, but that doesn't mean the Gaels won't be loaded again in 2012-13.
The program learned of another significant addition earlier this week when the NCAA ruled that sophomore point guard Tavon Sledge has been granted a hardship waiver and will be eligible to compete immediately. Sledge played last season at Iowa State.
There, he only played eight games this past season, getting 18 total minutes and scoring just eight points.
Just a thought here, but it seems dramatically easier for college players to transfer between programs and receive the so-called "hardship" waivers that enable them to play immediately for their new program rather than sit out a season as per the traditional transfer rule.
Sledge becomes the second Iona player in two years (Momo Jones last season) to get a hardship waiver.
Sledge, a Rockland (N.Y.) County native, did not appear to have any particular "hardship" related to his transfer closer to his roots, and admits his primary motivation was to be able to play in a setting where his family could easily watch him play.
"That was the main reason for coming back," Sledge told the New York Daily News. "The opportunity for family and friends to see me play again ... it's a blessing."
Just speculation here, but the 5-foot-9 point guard might also have been motivated to leave Iowa State since it did not appear he was going to get significant minutes again this coming season.
Sledge, though, gives Iona's likely starting backcourt of Jones and long-range shooter Sean Armand a highly talented back-up.
As a senior at Half Halllow Hills West High School in the 2010-11 season he averaged 25.3 points and 5.2 assists per game.
He is one of nine new players on Iona's roster this season as the Gaels have restocked in non-traditional fashion. Iona's newcomers include four junior college transfers, three players coming in from other four-year programs and just two players coming in directly from high school programs.
Sledge isn't the only high-level talent joining a MAAC program from a four-year school and getting a waiver to play immediately.
Rider recently learned that the waiver it filed in order for prolific guard Nurideen Lindsey to be immediately eligible was also approved.
Lindsey played nine first-semester games at St. John's last season (11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists per contest) and, under traditional transfer rules, would not have been able to play until the start of games after the upcoming first semester ended.
Instead, Lindsey (who played a junior college season before moving to St. John's) gets on the court immediately for the Broncs with two full seasons of eligibility remaining.
Meanwhile, another MAAC program, Manhattan, didn't fare as well with its attempt to secure a hardship waiver for an incoming transfer.
The NCAA, this week, did not approve the hardship waiver for 6-9, 240-pound center Ashton Pankey, who transferred to the Jaspers' program after playing his freshmen year at Maryland last season. There, he played in all 32 games, got 17 starts and averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest.
Pankey's addition to this year's team might have made Manhattan, which lacks only a real inside force otherwise, the preseason favorite in the conference this season.
Manhattan, though, isn't ready to give up yet on having Pankey for this season.
"It's not the news we were hoping for," Manhattan coach Steve Masiello told the Daily News. "But we're going to pursue an appeal ... I've been here before while I was at other institutions where I've seen waivers denied and, then, go the other way on appeal. So, it's not over yet."
Manhattan's roster lists Pankey as a "sophomore." But, the post player already sat out a season at Maryland (2010-11) as a medical redshirt. If he sits out another season as a transfer, he would appear to only have two remaining seasons (players traditionally only have five years to complete four seasons of eligibility once they begin attending a Division I-level school) when he begins playing for the Jaspers.