As soon as December 16th, the University of Miami men’s basketball team might have an extra guard to utilize on the court.
Introducing senior Elijah Olaniyi: a Stony Brook transfer who comes off a 2019-20 campaign in which he notched 18.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Listed at 6-foot-5, Olaniyi, 21, was bound to make an immediate impact for the ‘Canes’ 2021-22 squad, as NCAA transfer rules mandated him to sit a season before becoming eligible.
That could change very soon.
According to The Athletic, the NCAA Division 1 Council is expected to allow transfers immediate eligibility for the 2020-21 season. The report says, “the new waiver would allow transfers who are sitting out this season due to NCAA rules to be immediately eligible for their new teams, as long as they were enrolled full-time in fall of 2020 and this is the first time they have transferred from a four-year institution.”
That being said, if all goes as planned, Olaniyi would be allowed to suit up for Miami’s (3-1) ACC conference opener this upcoming Wednesday against Pittsburgh (4-1). Tip-off is at 6:00 p.m., and the NCAA is expected to finalize a decision by 5:00 p.m.
Whether or not Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga will utilize him in the rotation is unknown, although it’s very likely that he will. One thing’s for sure: he’s not pleased with the way the NCAA has handled this topic.
“Why would you make a decision like this in the middle of December?” Larranaga said following UM’s shocking 66-62 loss to Florida Gulf Coast Saturday. “If you are going to make changes, why aren’t you making them before the season starts?
“If they pass the rule that Elijah can play, it would be sure nice to have him. But from what I understand, that decision is not going to be announced until like 5 o’clock on Wednesday afternoon. Are you kidding me? That’s a joke. We have to wait until the last minute. We play at 6.”
Assuming that Olaniyi does play, there’s plenty of benefits to come for Larranaga’s team.
For starters, Miami’s guard group would expand to four – Chris Lykes (Sr.), Isaiah Wong (So.), Kameron McGusty (Sr.), Harlond Beverly (So.) – ultimately giving the Hurricanes some much needed depth. His presence could’ve been used against the Eagles, when McGusty went down with an injury early in the second half, and Lykes (ankle) was out for the second consecutive game.
With basically six scholarship players to use, Larranaga was tasked with using walk-on guard Willie Herenton some playing time. An All-Conference First Team and NABC All-District First Team selection, Olaniyi’s effectiveness could’ve been the difference-maker to keeping UM from suffering an upset loss.
Whether it’s his field-goal shooting (43.5%) or specifically three-point shooting (36.1%) from his previous season, the 1,000 point scorer at Stony Brook has a real chance to put UM at a higher advantage.
“My coaches are very focused on him, giving him a lot of individual attention, working with him on his skills, and getting him comfortable with our offensive and defensive schemes,” Larranaga told reporters on the veteran shooting guard last month. “Elijah’s doing a very good job of learning those and making progress.”
With a decision in the making shortly, there’s a reason to keep an eye out for the new guy in Coral Gables.