Men's Basketball, WVU Sports

Arkansas transfer Gabe Osabuohien’s playing eligibility in a holding pattern

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Officially, Bob Huggins classified Gabe Osabuohien’s playing status for this season as, “TBD.”

What that means for the Arkansas transfer, who enrolled at WVU in August, is the 6-foot-7 forward is practicing with the Mountaineers, but is otherwise in a holding pattern.

Osabuohien was dismissed from the Razorbacks on Aug. 15. Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman announced the move without disclosing the reason for the dismissal.

He enrolled at WVU as a Division I transfer a week later, meaning he would need a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible this season without sitting out a year, per NCAA transfer rules.

Speaking in general terms and not specifically of Osabuohien’s situation, Huggins was positive about the process schools go through in order to request and receive a waiver from the NCAA.

“Honestly, I think if you have any reason whatsoever, you get a waiver,” Huggins said during Tuesday’s press conference that marked the beginning of pre-season practices. “It doesn’t take a lot. There’s such an emphasis on individual rights, that I don’t think they want that challenged anymore.

“Unless there is strong opposition to it from some faction, I think we’re at a time where (the NCAA) wants to be known as helping people achieve their goals and not holding them back from achieving their goals. I think they were accused of that before.”

Whether or not WVU applies for a waiver for Osabuohien is still being discussed between the school’s compliance and athletic departments.

In June, the NCAA Division I Council adjusted guidelines used to determine immediate-eligibility waivers and now include a greater involvement from the athlete’s original school.

Schools seeking a waiver must now prove an athlete’s transfer is “due to documented extenuating, extraordinary and mitigating circumstances outside of the student-athlete’s control,” according to an report.

In Osabuohien’s case, he was dismissed from his team, but a potential argument could be whether or not that dismissal was out of his own control.

Osabuohien played in 54 games over two seasons with the Razorbacks and he started the team’s last eight games this past season. He averaged 2.4 points per game and shot 34 percent from the field in those 54 games.

“Looking at him on film, he plays really hard,” Huggins said. “He’s a big who can bounce it, which I think is a great weapon to have. He’s a guy who can catch it and drive it and draw fouls. He’s strong and aggressive.”

If Osabuohien is not granted a waiver, he still has a redshirt available and would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020-21 season.

Because of his defensive abilities, Huggins would like to see Osabuohien on the court before then.

“I think for an extended period of time, he can guard on the perimeter better than any big we have,” Huggins said. “He’s got two years of SEC experience and played in some big games. I think that gives him an advantage over the freshmen.”

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