Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Okwandu's Issue May Stem From Southern Idaho


It doesn't appear that the issue keeping 7-1 JUCO transfer Charles Okwandu out of tonight's exhibition game is a big deal. Last spring, while Okwandu was attending Harcum Junior College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., NCAA officials asked Marcum coach/athletic director Drew Kelly some questions regarding Okwandu's amateurism.

Specifically, there seemed to be some questions about who facilitated Okwandu's trip from his native Nigeria to the College of Southern Idaho, where Okwandu spent a semester in the spring of 2007. (He never played for Southern Idaho. If that school sounds familiar, it's because it's the school where Nate Miles is currently enrolled).

Anyway, apparently the NCAA got the answers it was looking for because Okwandu played all of last season at Harcum before transferring to UConn over the summer.

"I definitely don't think there was anything super-big," said Kelly. "When I talked to the NCAA last spring, the lawyer told me everything was extremely minor. I think there wers some people in Nigeria that help facilitate travel, and the NCAA wanted to make sure they weren't acting like middle men."

Of course, it's not known whether these are the same issues keeping Okwandu out of tonight's game. UConn coach Jim Calhoun didn't elaborate much yesterday, only saying that it wasn't a big deal and that holding Okwandu out of tonight's game is more precautionary than anything.

Kelly said he spoke with Okwandu about a month ago and maintains fairly regular contact with the UConn coaching staff, and nobody has brought anything up to him.

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