rebels basketball:

Kevin Olekaibe transfers to UNLV from Fresno State; has strong case for hardship waiver to become eligible

The Cimarron-Memorial star only transferred to UNLV to be with ailing father; has one year of eligibility

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Associated Press

Kevin Olekaibe (3), playing Jan. 23 with Fresno State, brings the ball down the court against Boise State. Olekaibe is transferring to UNLV.

Former Cimarron-Memorial High basketball standout Kevin Olekaibe is enrolled in summer school classes at UNLV. All things considered, he wouldn’t mind still being at Fresno State.

Olekaibe (pronounced O-LAY-key-bay) left Fresno State after three seasons in April because his ailing father was transferred to a Las Vegas hospice. His father is paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak — the result of two strokes.

“I don’t remember the last words he said to me,” Olekaibe said. “His left side in unresponsive. He doesn’t speak. He always told me family comes first, so coming home was an easy decision.”

Olekaibe, a 6-foot-2 guard and one of Fresno State’s top players, hopes to join the UNLV program for the upcoming season. He says UNLV will submit a hardship waiver to the NCAA so he can be immediately eligible. Players who transfer within conference must sit out two years; transfers out of conference sit out one year.

Olekaibe, who is walking on and won’t take the Rebels’ remaining scholarship, still has his redshirt year available. If the NCAA denies his waiver, his college career would be over.

And that’s just fine.

One of seven children from a close-knit family, his primary concern is being with loved ones. He joins his mother almost daily for visits with his father in the hospice.

“Even if it doesn’t work out, I still will be satisfied (with my decision) because I did what’s best for my mother and father,” he said.

He averaged 8.3 points and 25.6 minutes per game last season for Fresno State, posting 13 points and eight assists when the Bulldogs upset UNLV last March at the Thomas & Mack Center. He had 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting in February when Fresno State beat UNLV, the first of two victories against UNLV for the last-place Bulldogs.

The victory at UNLV was one of his top college moments. And not because it was a signature win for the program.

“It gave my family something to smile about, even it is was just for one night,” he said.

It was unlike most times he would talk with his mother, when he felt helpless because he was in California when she needed him by her side in a Las Vegas hospital room.

“It was the absolutely painful hearing my mom cry over the phone when I was in Fresno,” he said.

He was one of Fresno State’s key players as a sophomore, averaging 17.8 points in playing 36.5 minutes per game.

He averaged a state-best 35.6 points per game in 2009-10 at Cimarron, shooting 50-percent from the field in scoring more than 40 points nine times. He also averaged 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game to earn all-state honors. He was a two-time all-Sunset Region selection, scoring 22.3 points and grabbing 5.5 assists per game as a high school junior.

He could potentially take the place of Katin Reinhardt in the UNLV backcourt. Reinhardt recently transferred to USC.

“Coach Rice welcomed me. I’m honored to be a Rebel,” he said.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. Wow.............not really what we needed....rebels need three point shooting.....nod more than one........rebels will struggle without it

  2. Nice kid, but was this the best we could do to fill a spot?????

  3. Kid is going to walk on. He's from Vegas. His father is in a hospice and not doing well. He isn't taking a scholarship; he's walking on. It's a tough situation for him to be in given what is going on with his family. It's a one year free roll of the dice. He's not a bad payer and brings 3 years of starting experience to a relatively inexperienced back court. Can't figure out what anyone's problem could be with this. If Rice has recruited him and was using our last 2014 ride for another guard as opposed to a front court player, I could understand some concern.

  4. There is absolutely no problem with this I think. Las Vegas is where he needs to be due to his family, so UNLV is pretty much his only option, which is what he is doing, and as a walk on, as stated nonetheless. It's not like he wanted to leave Fresno, but it was something he had to do, family comes first. We still have the open schollie, and no time was spent recruiting, as if we don't know what he's capable of anyways.

  5. I would be shocked if his waiver is denied. There's four guidelines that the NCAA uses in determining in whether or not they will grant somebody a waiver:

    The school presents medical documentation of a debilitating injury or illness to a student-athlete's immediate family member that is debilitating and requires ongoing medical care. The previous standard had been "life-threatening."

    The student-athlete demonstrates he or she will be responsible for regular, ongoing caregiving responsibilities. The previous standard required the student-athlete to be the primary, day-to-day caregiver.

    The school is within a 100-mile radius of the immediate family member's home, which demonstrates the ability for the student-athlete to provide regular, ongoing care. Previously, no distance limitation was in place.

    The school to which the student-athlete is transferring must submit a statement from the athletics director and faculty athletics representative confirming that the student-athlete will be relieved of responsibilities to the team in order to care for the injured or ill family member, and that the coaching staff will support such a departure.

    Additionally, the subcommittee decided if a student-athlete's family member is given a specific amount of time to live, that potentially outweighs all other guidelines.

    Since he's a walk-on, there's no risk involved here. Any contribution from him is a reward.

  6. Kid was part of a team that stuck it to us twice last year. In two games he averaged 17 points against us. Sounds to me like he can help in some way.

  7. @gumby2323 - I think he can be a strong emotional leader for the team. I don't see him playing that many minutes. It's a good pickup because there's not really any risk.