Chinonso Obokoh, Syracuse's freshman center, has lost a year of college basketball eligibility because the NCAA ruled that his Rochester high school improperly classified him as a student when he arrived from Nigeria.

At issue, essentially, is how many years Obokoh spent in high school. He came to the United States and Bishop Kearney High School from Nigeria in May 2010. He was classified, by Bishop Kearney personnel, as a freshman that year based upon his transcripts from Nigeria and his proficiency in English.

"When he first got here," said then-Kearney coach Jon Boon, "he couldn't speak very good English. He learned English by watching TV and movies. He understood it, but his reading wasn't that good."

Obokoh played three seasons of varsity basketball at Bishop Kearney, where he rose to become one of the nation's more intriguing talents at center because of his 6-foot-9 size and athleticism. Bishop Kearney, like all schools with students interested in playing college athletics, submitted Obokoh's paperwork as a part of the NCAA's initial eligibility process once his high school career ended.

Boon said Bishop Kearney sent Obokoh's transcripts and was asked, by the NCAA, to submit additional paperwork "explaining what we did for him academically."

Chris Radford, the NCAA's Associate Director of Public and Media Relations, said that for international students, the NCAA Eligibility Center "reviews transcripts to ensure the respective student has graduated with his/her peer class. Any time spent competing in athletics beyond that time, prior to college enrollment, can be subtracted from NCAA eligibility."

The NCAA rule discourages athletes from reclassifying in high school to gain an extra year of high school competition and theoretically become more college-ready. SU coach Jim Boeheim said Obokoh did not play organized basketball in Nigeria.