Sanchez Tries to Make Best of NCAA Situation

When senior Orlando Sanchez was declared ineligible to play NCAA basketball in the fall of 2012, the outlook wasn’t necessarily what it is today.

The 6 foot 9 forward thought about leaving, thought about returning to his home country of the Dominican Republic or possibly playing professionally somewhere overseas. Instead, after speaking with head coach Steve Lavin, Sanchez decided he would be better off staying in Queens and giving his dream one more shot.

“When they said that I can’t play, I almost [went back to the Dominican Republic],” Sanchez said. “Then coach Lavin started talking with me and said it’s better if I stay here. We can do something about my case.”

Yesterday, St. John’s took the next step with that case. They sent documents from Sanchez’s lawyer, Robert Orr, to the NCAA re-submitting a Waiver of Legislation request in the hopes that the 24-year-old could suit up for the Red Storm next season.

Sanchez’s ineligibility stems from 3 minutes and 38 seconds that he spent playing mop up time for the Dominican Republic National Team. The NCAA sees that as a separate case of participating in organized basketball after the player turned 21, which puts him at the limit of his four years of college eligibility when tacked onto two years at Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY and eight games spent playing for a club team in the Dominican Republic.

“How is this going to cost one year; 3 minutes and 38 seconds to represent my country,” Sanchez said. “It’s not making sense for me.”

Sanchez hopes that he can obtain a waiver to play based on the hardship he experienced throughout his life, particularly as a teenager trying to support his grandmother. When thinking about the time spent working as a carpenter trying to make ends meet for his family’s sake, he finds its easier to try and not think about it.

“It’s something that for me – is put away,” he said. “I don’t want to remember nothing like that. It’s not that hard or something, but I don’t like talking about it.”

For now, Sanchez is trying to make the  best of the situation. He has a 3.48 GPA and says he is about 23 credits away from a degree. He’s making the best out of a less than ideal situation, the way he has all his life.

“St. John’s gave me the scholarship,” he said. “I can go to school and it’s something good for me too. It’s something bad and something good because I can’t play, but I can finish my degree.”

If the NCAA doesn’t rule in Sanchez’s favor, there can be an appeal to a subcommittee. If that doesn’t work, St. John’s could pursue the case in court. Regardless, at this juncture, Sanchez isn’t sure about what the future holds.

He has heard people telling him he could leave and play in Spain or France and he’s thought about the possibility of entering the NBA draft if things don’t go his way with the NCAA. Still, finishing his degree is at the top of his list. With a diploma, Sanchez understands that he can set himself up for a better future whether or not basketball is a part of it.

“If something happened with me, if I had some injuries, I couldn’t play more basketball. What would I do after that? Sanchez asked. “After I finish my basketball career, I want to have a business or work.”

The soft-spoken big man believes there’s only so much he can control and if he stays the course, the rest will take care of itself.

“I can only wait for them to decide if I can play or not,” he said. “What I can do [now] is try to stay focused and … study and practice a little bit. I can do nothing more.”