Kerwin Okoro

Rutgers loses one player to transfer, adds 6-foot-6 high school senior

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With Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack out of eligibility, Rutgers was bound to undergo some changes this offseason. Thursday afternoon it was reported by multiple outlets that guard Kerwin Okoro will be leaving the program, in a decision that has been labeled as a “mutual decision.” Okoro, who began his college career at Iowa State, is the second player in the last week to transfer from Rutgers.

Sophomore forward Junior Etou made that decision last week, and Okoro’s departure means that each of the players who joined Eddie Jordan’s program when he took the reins in 2013 have moved on before the expiration of their eligibility. Two players (Craig Brown and D’Von Campbell) transferred after the 2013-14 season and J.J. Moore, who joined the program after graduating from Pittsburgh, was out of eligibility.

Okoro played in 17 games last season, averaging 2.0 points in 7.3 minutes of action per contest.

Also of note Thursday was Rutgers landing a verbal commitment from 6-foot-6 small forward Jonathan Laurent according to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press. Laurent attends Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, and he joins point guard Corey Sanders as Florida natives in Rutgers’ 2015 recruiting haul, which also includes guard Justin Goode and forward Kejuan Johnson.

Rutgers has struggled for quite some time, with their last NCAA tournament appearance coming in 1991. The task of rebuilding the program while also getting used to a new conference hasn’t been an easy one for Jordan and his staff, as evidenced by their going winless for the remainder of the season following their upset of Wisconsin in mid-January.

Kerwin Okoro changed NCAA transfer guidelines, Drew Wilson benefits

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It took some time, but Kerwin Okoro got his waiver.

The Iowa State transfer will be eligible immediately to play at Rutgers. If you missed the controversy, Okoro lost both his brother (cancer) and his father last season. The New York City native transferred to get closer to home, but his waiver was initially denied by the NCAA.

This got national attention, and all of it negative. How is it possible that a sick family member could be considered enough of a hardship to earn immediate eligibility, but losing a father and a brother isn’t?

Well, the answer is that there simply wasn’t anything on the books that specifically said a player dealing with the death of a family member can be granted immediate eligibility if they choose to transfer closer to home. It’s a unique situation, and thanks to the amount of media attention the denial of a waiver garnered, it’s a misunderstanding that won’t happen again. From Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com:

the guidelines weren’t written in a way to allow waivers for cases like Okoro’s because his situation was obviously unique. The committee, Lennon said, realized this and has now recommended that the guideline be adjusted to take an immediate family member’s death into consideration. In other words, going forward, if a player applies for a waiver to transfer closer to home and play without sitting out a season after an immediate family member’s death, that waiver will be granted.

And Okoro isn’t the only player that has had a ruling overturned.

Drew Wilson, who started 18 games for Missouri State last season, transferred to Oral Roberts this spring to be closer to home after the death of his sister. His waiver for immediate eligibility was initially denied, but over the weekend, the NCAA announced that Wilson will be allowed to play for the Golden Eagles this year.

Transfers, and who is eligibile to play immediately, are controversial topics, but I think we can all agree that letting a kid return home without punishment after the death of a family member is the right course of action.