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NCAA Basketball MAAC Basketball

Ashton Pankey Ineligible: How NCAA Decision Affects Manhattan, MAAC

Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Earlier today, Iona announced that the NCAA had deemed Iowa State transfer Tavon Sledge eligible immediately, granting his hardship waiver. Manhattan‘s Ashton Pankey, a 6-foot-9 Maryland transfer, learned hours later that the NCAA denied his waiver.

Steve Masiello said Manhattan would appeal the NCAA’s decision, but the chances of Pankey suiting up for the Jaspers in 2012-13 seem slim at this point.

With a bunch of returning players — including MAAC leading scorer George Beamon — Manhattan is expected to finish somewhere in the conference’s top three. Loyola (MD) — the reigning tournament champs — and Iona should also challenge the Jaspers for the regular season crown.

Manhattan has a very solid back court and wing corp, with Beamon, Mike Alvarado, Emmy Andujar, Donovan Kates and C.J. Jones. And even without Pankey, Rhamel Brown and Roberto Colonette give the Jaspers one of the league’s best front courts. Pankey, who averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.3 minutes per game as a freshman at Maryland, would have given Masiello the league’s most formidable front court, though.

Now, Siena maintains its advantage up front with a deeper set of bigs.

The Jaspers should still contend for the conference championship because they are deep even without Pankey. Compared to Loyola, Manhattan lost fewer pieces, and though Iona has a bunch of transfers ready to step in, replacing Scott Machado and Mike Glover won’t be easy.

If Pankey’s appeal proves to be successful, however, Manhattan will have a distinct advantage at the top of the league.