As expected, Ledo a partial qualifier

No alarms and no surprises here. Providence freshman Ricardo Ledo has been ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA, ESPN.com's Andy Katz reported this afternoon.

Ledo will be able to practice with the Friars and enroll in classes, but he won't be eligible to compete for Providence until next season, when he will be a redshirt freshman with four years of eligibility remaining.

Why so unsurprising? Because Ledo was allowed to enroll in classes beginning at Providence this week; he wouldn't have been allowed to do so by the NCAA until his eligibility status had been determined, even if the NCAA hadn't yet informed Providence of its ruling. Once Ledo started taking classes, one of two decisions was possible -- that he was fully qualified, or partially qualified, and the latter always seemed more likely.

For everyone in need of a reminder what all this partial-qualifier stuff is about, check out Dana O'Neil's handy explanation, hot off the presses, here. There will no doubt be some angst among Providence fans, not only for the decision itself but for the time it took for the NCAA to come to it. But as Dana writes today, when it comes to qualifying players -- particularly high-profile recruits with shaky academic backgrounds -- the oft-overwhelmed NCAA Eligibility Center is bound to take its time.

For his part, Providence coach Ed Cooley has handled the decision well. From Katz's report:

The news was well received by coach Ed Cooley, who had been worried that the highly touted Ledo would be ruled ineligible to even practice due to an academic past that included attending four different high schools in five years.

Cooley feared that if Ledo wasn't granted partial eligibility to practice he wouldn't come to school. Ledo then could have sat out the year and declared for the NBA draft in the spring. He still could do that, but the odds now are more likely he'll play at least one season for the Friars.

Indeed, though Ledo could change his mind -- he did attend four different high schools in five years, after all -- he has repeatedly stated his desire to remain at Providence and play at least one season for the team. At the very least, even if Ledo does eventually change his mind, he will get the benefit of at least one year of higher education at a quality institution, as well as the benefits of participating (in every way other than actually playing) at a Division I program. That's not nothing.

It does, however, delay Providence's purported rise. Ledo and fellow guard Kris Dunn -- both ranked among the best 25 players in the class of 2012 -- are the linchpins of Cooley's first splashy class at PC. Ledo is out for the season. This summer, Dunn suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and could cost him the early months of the season, if not longer. He'll be available sooner than Ledo, but in any case Providence will move forward with a team that much more closely resembles 2012's 15-17 squad than the one Cooley might have optimistically envisioned.

Still, as Cooley himself has said, it could have been worse. And when (or if) Ledo does return in 2012-13, Providence's trajectory will still be moving upward -- if not as quickly as its fans may have hoped.