NCAA clears Kevin Olekaibe to play immediately at UNLV

Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA will allow former Fresno State transfer Kevin Olekaibe to be eligible immediately for UNLV.

Kevin Olekaibe's eligibility a long awaited relief for UNLV

As many expected, the NCAA approved Fresno State transfer Kevin Olekaibe's hardship waivers on Monday, which will allow the Senior guard to play in the season opener Friday against Portland State pending approval from the Mountain West.

Given that Fresno State fully supported Olekaibe's transfer to his hometown of Las Vegas to be closer to his father, and many were expecting this decision to be made sooner, but that wasn't the case. While the NCAA typically requires all players who transfer to other Division I schools to sit out for a season, exceptions had been made in the past, and prior to Monday's announcement, Olekaibe's frustration was evident:

"We have seen all these other players get approved waivers, and we don't understand. Some aren't even medical situations. Our father is sick. Really sick."

Kevin's father, Benson Olekaibe, suffered strokes back in 2008 and 2009. He got worse this past year while living in hospice care and is now mostly paralyzed and unable to communicate. It was at her husband's bedside where Esther Olekaibe learned about about her son's eligibility on TV. Although this doesn't change what Kevin and his family are going through, it does allow him to continue playing the game he loves despite the circumstances.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 8.3 points for the Bulldogs last season, while dealing with injuries and the personal issues involving his father's health. The season prior however, Olekaibe led Fresno State with 17.8 points per game. The Rebels might not expect that kind of production from him right away but he's definitely expected to provide some depth behind junior transfers Deville Smith and Jalan Kendrick in addition to returning junior Bryce Dejean-Jones, who suffered a strained hamstring in the exhibition loss to Dixie State and is currently questionable for the season opener.

It's definitely a relief for UNLV to get Olekaibe on board for the 2013-2014 season. With many holes to fill, the Runnin' Rebels need all the help they can get as they set to tip off the season Friday at the Thomas and Mack Center. Even though some may not be expecting a whole lot from the senior transfer, he appears more than confident in his abilities:

"People may have forgotten that old KO, but I've improved since then."

Props to the NCAA for making the right decision.

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