Imoh Silas

Associated Press

Siena forward Javion Ogunyemi immediate eligibility

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After averaging 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 31 games a season ago, Siena forward Javion Ogunyemi made the decision to transfer from the MAAC program. The Troy, New York native would eventually choose Boston University, but the tragic death of his cousin led to Ogunyemi’s decision to return to Siena after six weeks of summer school.

The question basketball-wise was whether or not Ogunyemi would have to miss any time, and Friday the school announced that the 6-foot-8 junior is immediately eligible for competition.

That’s big news for Siena, which now has another proven player in its front court to play alongside the likes of Brett Bisping and Imoh Silas. And with both of those players coming off of injuries that either cut their season short (Bisping) or ended it before it even began (Silas), having Ogunyemi available from the start is an important development for a team that aims to contend in the MAAC.

Siena, which now returns five of its top six scorers from a season ago, was picked to finish fifth in the MAAC preseason coaches poll earlier this month.

MAAC contender loses center to torn ACL

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Three days before the start of the 2014-15 regular season, Siena announced the team will be without center Imoh Silas. The 6-foot-9 senior torn his ACL in his right knee during practice last Thursday. An MRI on Tuesday revealed the injury.

“Imoh’s our family member and he has another year left to play,” Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said in a statement. “Hopefully he comes back, but that’s up to him. He graduates (in May). I’d certainly welcome him back. Everybody has injuries. It’s the way of the sports world now.

“He’s a great character guy.He gives us toughness and rebounding. He won some games for us last year. He single-handedly won that Cornell game and that was a big turnaround for us. He just got to go home to Nigeria. He hadn’t been home in three and a half years. You put in perspective what he’s done, and everyone on campus loves him. We still have our starting five, but we didn’t have anyone else like him. Now somebody else has to step up.”

Silas averaged 3.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, starting 32 of 38 contests for the Saints.

Siena went 20-18 (11-9 MAAC), winning the College Basketball Invitational championship last season, and is expected to be a threat to conference powers Iona and Manhattan in Patsos’ second season. The Saints were voted No. 2 in the coaches preseason poll.

Siena opens the season on Friday night at UMass.