LSU basketball recruit Mickey cleared by NCAA

After two weeks, Jordan Mickey’s stint in purgatory is over.

The standout LSU basketball recruit was cleared as eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse late Friday and now can focus on the typical freshman check list of moving into a dorm, enrolling in classes and joining the fellow members of the Tigers’ consensus top-10 recruiting class in workouts, James Wright, who is Mickey’s father, said Saturday.

On July 11, the NCAA refused to certify the 6-foot-7, 195-pound swingman out of Dallas after questions arose over whether his schoolwork at Prime Prep satisfied core course requirements, but that changed when LSU coach Johnny Jones passed along word Mickey — a four-star prospect — was good to go.

“I wasn’t’ really worried from that standpoint,” said Wright, who noted his son carries a 3.6 cumulative grade point average. “I knew all of this would get cleared up from that standpoint.”

Movement in clearing up Mickey’s status started shifting Friday, when fellow Prime Prep teammate and TCU signee Karviar Shepherd learned he was cleared to join former LSU coach Trent Johnson in Fort Worth.

The fact the pair had been deemed nonqualifiers took Wright by surprise, considering he thought his job at vetting Prime Prep had sufficiently cleared up any questions regarding whether Mickey would be eligible after signing a letter of intent.

“A lot of the problems came from the name of the school, which is actually a charter school,” Wright said. “As a parent you want to put your child in the best place to succeed academically. That was the best school in our area where we live it, and that’s the reason we chose it. You have to be cautious, because of exactly what’s transpired in the last few weeks. We thought we had done all our homework.”

By all accounts, the school thought it was on firm footing with the NCAA, too.

In January, it declared on its website that the school, which is in its first year of operation and founded by a group led by former NFL star Deion Sanders, and the curriculum met NCAA guidelines. Mickey and Shepherd arrived at Prime Prep from Arlington Grace Prep, following coach Ray Forsett after winning a 2012 state title.

“Throughout this whole process, I was asking those questions,” Wright said. “Everybody assured me that everything was in line and looked great. If I would have known there was going to be an issue, I would have taken my son and left. There was no red flags, so we did stay. Then at the end, we’re having some issues and things we need to have clarified.”

Controversy, though, found the school in November, when Prime Prep pulled out of Texas’ University Interscholastic League after several players, including Mickey, were ruled ineligible after transferring for athletic purposes. The school played as an independent but finished 37-2 and ranked No. 6 nationally in USA Today’s Super 25.

Forsett did not respond to a request for comment Saturday about Mickey’s status and the school’s issue with the NCAA.

Adding Mickey to the fold is obviously a boon for LSU, considering he was deemed the No. 41 prospect in the nation by the recruiting service Rivals. Paired with Baton Rouge native Jarell Martin, he was a cornerstone of a six-man class laden with length in the frontcourt, but also athletic and rangy enough to play away from the rim along with applying ample defensive pressure.

Martin, a 6-9, 240-pound product of Madison Prep, has been on campus since June after clearing up some credit recovery courses, along with fellow recruits in four-star point guard Tim Quarterman, junior college forward John Odo and 7-foot Australian center Darcy Malone.

Only Scotlandville forward Brian Bridgewater, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound prospect that is rated as a three-star player, has questions regarding his status after engaging in the same credit recovery process as Martin this summer.

As for Mickey, he’s in Baton Rouge this weekend staying with his brother, also named James Wright, who is a senior at LSU. While he hasn’t been able to take part in LSU’s conditioning program and two-hour weekly individual sessions with coaches, Mickey has played some pick-up games with the newest Tigers.

But now come the logistics of getting housing and adding classes —a process Wright is eager to take part in.

“We’re fighting those battles one at a time,” Wright said. “Coach Jones is on the road, but we’ll talk about when that can happen, and start to get acclimated.”