After spending four months in a Cook County Jail boot camp for a pair of gun charges, Marquise Pryor thought he paid his debt to society and could return for the first game of his high school basketball team's postseason run.
But the Illinois High School Association had different ideas.
The IHSA waited until moments before Pryor's first game back to alert Orr (Chicago, Ill.) High coaches that the state's prep governing body was reviewing the 6-foot-7, 210-pound senior power forward's eligibility, so he could not suit up for Wednesday's Glenbard South (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) High in the Class 3A regional semifinals.
"Last minute, we were in the locker room and coach brought me the bad news," Pryor told the Chicago Tribune. "It was hard for me to accept, but I had to suck it up and support my team. "
As he did on Wednesday night, Pryor has said nothing but the right things since his release from the boot camp on Friday. Like this to the Chicago Sun-Times:
"I learned a valuable lesson," he said. "I am thankful to be given this chance to play again, and I take this opportunity very serious. Any way I can help the team, I will, and I appreciate all the support from my coaches, teammates, teachers and the entire school."
Since Pryor's guilty plea in September, the Chicago papers have detailed his rehabilitation in Cook County, his plans to return to the basketball court for Orr and his release from boot camp over the weekend. All the while, Pryor completed course work to stay on track for graduation this spring, according to the Tribune report.
Yet, the IHSA couldn't make a ruling on whether Pryor completed 25 credit hours this past semester until Thursday at the earliest? The association's assistant executive director Matt Troha claimed to be unaware of the situation until earlier this week, when the Tribune inquired about his eligibility. Apparently the IHSA doesn't read the papers or pay attention when high-profile high school players are arrested on gun charges. That's a bit hard to believe, to put it mildly.
"From my understanding they never told any of us about this," Pryor's mother Lealer Harris explained to the paper. "He had passing grades at boot camp and we presented those grades to Orr. I'm kind of upset. He's just a kid. He is sad and hurt by this. Everyone knows he was coming back to high school and they knew he was coming back to play. Somebody's not taking care of their business."
"He messed up, and he paid society back for what he did," added Marquise's father Derrick Pryor. "They're going to keep him down in the dirt?"
Meanwhile, Orr defeated Glenbard South, 57-42, amid "We want Pryor!" chants from the crowd, according to the Sun-Times. As a result, Pryor could participate when his team -- one of the favorites to win the Class 3A state title -- plays in the regional finals on Friday. As long as the IHSA makes a ruling on his academic standing before then, of course.
"He should be back Friday," Orr coach Louis Adams told the Tribune. "I haven't really talked to the IHSA. He has all his credits. I don't know what the problem was. I spoke with Kurt [Gibson of the IHSA on Wednesday]. He will get back to me [Thursday]."