The final nail in the Connecticut coffin for the 2013 postseason was driven when the NCAA denied the appeal. Connecticut will be banned from the NCAA tournament next year, and will also not participate in the Big East tournament as a result.
This ruling likely has several ripple effects for the program.
- Jeremy Lamb was likely gone to the NBA either way, so it probably had no impact, but expect Lamb to officially declare soon;
- Andre Drummond will likely go pro now that this news is official, as he had mentioned the possibility of returning depending on the outcome. He is a projected lottery pick;
- Alex Oriakhi will transfer and be able to play right away in 2012-2013, since he has only one year of eligibility remaining and Connecticut is barred from the postseason, and has plans to visit Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, and Missouri, and will be getting the royal treatment.
- Chris Obekpa, a 6″9″ center ranked as a top 50 prospect, has not committed and has offers from several other Big East programs who will be eligible for tournament participation.
- Other players could choose to transfer, including several major contributors such as Roscoe Smith, Ryan Boatright or DeAndre Daniels. However, as I’ll detail below, they would have to sit out a year. Shabazz Napier has already said he is staying, as has Niels Giffey.
The reason those others will have to sit out is the language of the waiver rule as it applies to the APR. Per 14.8.2(e):
On the recommendation of the Committee on Academic Performance, for a student-athlete who transfers to a member institution to continue the student-athlete’s opportunity for full participation in a sport because the student-athlete’s original institution is ineligible for postseason competition, pursuant to the Academic Performance Program, that would preclude the institution’s team in that sport from participating in postseason competition during all of the remaining seasons of the student-athlete’s eligibility, provided the student-athlete would have been academically eligible had he or she remained at his or her original institution. [emphasis mine]
That italicized part is why Oriakhi is basically a free agent able to go to any school that will accept him and where the conference transfer rules permit, and play right away, while the sophomores and freshmen cannot. They could still play in the postseason in 2014.
It can be a harsh result for a player who wants to come back for one more year before going to the NBA, before their four years of eligibility are up. That player would have to either leave earlier than they want, or spend another season when they get no tournament exposure. It also means that while UConn is going to go through a tumultuous year, and will most likely lose at least 3 starters off a team with no seniors, it could have been worse. Oriakhi is the lone Junior. A year later, this ruling may have produced even more departures. Jim Calhoun is 70 years old in a month, and this still has impacted recruiting. A team without any senior class for the second year in a row will also have a very limited freshman class as it embarks on the next four year cycle. He, though, remains defiant and resolved to return as ever.
[US Presswire, h/t to @MattNorlander of CBS for the link to the NCAA rule on APR transfers]