UNLV's Olekaibe cleared to play by NCAA

As soon as basketball practice ended Monday, UNLV senior Kevin Olekaibe went looking for his phone.

“I’m ready to call my mom and go tell her the news, and I know she’ll be happy,” he said.

Olekaibe, who transferred from Fresno State over the summer, finally was cleared by the NCAA to play this season. He left the Bulldogs’ program to be closer to home and his ill father, Benson, who is paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak as a result of suffering two strokes.

“It means a lot for my family,” he said. “I’m very excited.”

A former Cimarron-Memorial High School star, Olekaibe is paying his way through school as a non-scholarship player. He was a three-year starter at shooting guard for Fresno State.

UNLV submitted a waiver with a request that Olekaibe be cleared to play immediately. Due to intra-conference transfer rules, a Mountain West panel of faculty athletic representatives still must approve the waiver for Olekaibe to be eligible to play in games this week, and that final hurdle should be a formality.

If the conference’s ruling arrives promptly, Olekaibe could be in the starting lineup for the Rebels’ exhibition against Division II Adams State (Colo.) at 7 p.m. today at the Thomas & Mack Center. The regular-season opener is Friday against Portland State.

“We’re very pleased for Kevin and his family. We all know the adversity he has gone through with his father’s health,” said coach Dave Rice, who credited Fresno State officials for being in “full support of the waiver.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.