The NCAA has done the right thing in the Kerwin Okoro case.
After initially denying him a waiver to play immediately at Rutgers this season, the NCAA reversed course on Friday.
“I would like to thank the NCAA for granting me a waiver,” said Okoro. “I am very humbled by all the support I have received throughout the process, both from my basketball families at Rutgers and Iowa State. I look forward to working with my teammates and coaches to have a successful season. I feel very fortunate to be at Rutgers and close to my family. I can’t wait to play ball.”
“There are so many people to thank in regards to this important decision,” said Rutgers head coachEddie Jordan. “I am very grateful to the NCAA staff and subcommittee, our department of compliance, Iowa State University and our coaching staff for all of their support and hard work. Not only is Kerwin a fine basketball player, he’s an exceptional young man. We look forward to his contributions at Rutgers, both on and off the court.”
“I think it’s wonderful for him,” Okoro’s AAU coach, Abdu-Allah Torrence, told SNY.tv. “I just got off the phone with him 10 minutes ago. It’s going to help him mentally, help his mother so she can’t worry about him. I think his family will be able to watch him and support him.”
Okoro, a 6-foot-5 wing who previously attended St. Raymond’s in The Bronx, transferred to Rutgers from Iowa State after his 72-year-old father, Stanislaus, died in December of a stroke, according to the New York Post. Two months later, his 28-year-old brother, Idiongo, also passed away from colon cancer.
Okoro returned to be closer to his mother Eno and older brother Freddie, 26.
“It was a decision I made to be close to my family,” Okoro told SNY.tv in May. “I thought about a couple of options but the Rutgers situation seemed like what was best for me.”
The initial NCAA decision was especially curious given that several players who left Rutgers for other schools following the Mike Rice situation were cleared to play immediately. That group included Mike Poole (Iona) and Derrick Randall (Pitt), with Florida’s Eli Carter also expected to follow suit.
Okoro has three years of eligibility remaining after averaging 1.0 point per game last year with the Cyclones.
“He’s going to be a good kid to come off the bench to help them with scoring and defense from the wing guard position,” Torrence said. “He’s going to solidify their perimeter especially since they don’t know if J.J. Moore’s going to get a waiver.”
Rutgers is still awaiting word on the status of Moore, a 6-6 Pitt transfer, and 6-foot-8 1/2 Bishop O’Connell (Va.) big man Junior Etou. Both can workout and practice but their status for games is in the air.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.