The University of Cincinnati’s Wednesday night home game with Georgia Tech has some added appeal now as the NCAA has granted the mental health waiver claim of 7-foot center Aziz Bandaogo, allowing the two-time transfer to play.
UC basketball coach Wes Miller had argued passionately on behalf of Bandaogo and 6-11 Jamille Reynolds, whose appeal has yet to be heard.
Bandaogo was represented by the Morningstar Law Group of Raleigh, North Carolina with Swain Wood, Chris Graebe and Will Graebe along with Elliot Abrams of Cheshire Parker Schneider. They also successfully represented North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker, a two-time football transfer declared eligible for North Carolina football and Mack Brown in October.
UC statements on Bandaogo news
Statement from University of Cincinnati Men’s Basketball Coach Wes Miller“I’m thrilled for Aziz Bandaogo and can’t wait to have him play for us here at the University of Cincinnati this season. This process has been incredibly tough on Aziz and our whole team and I’m glad he can now focus on being the best student-athlete he can be for the Bearcats. We appreciate the NCAA for reconsidering his case, and ultimately coming to this decision.
I want to thank John Cunningham, President Pinto and the many people at the University of Cincinnati who supported Aziz during this process. Unfortunately, we still have another young man who is waiting to hear back from the NCAA on his waiver for immediate eligibility. Our hope is the NCAA will do the right thing in Jamille Reynolds’ case, as well.”
Statement from Aziz Bandaogo“The day I have long dreamt of has finally come. I am grateful that the NCAA has reconsidered my case and granted my immediate eligibility. I am most thankful for my teammates, our coaching staff, administration and fans for continuously supporting me.
Ohio is my American home away from home. I cannot wait to make my Cincinnati debut and give this program everything I have. Go Bearcats!”
Half of transfer tandem good to go
Both players are two-time transfers, Bandaogo from Utah Valley University and Akron and Reynolds from Temple and UCF. The NCAA had listed guidelines for two-time transfers to gain eligibility which included a condition for mental health. Miller was adamant that both players had met the guidelines and in recent press conferences used the stage to plead for the mental health of the student-athletes by allowing them to play.
Bandaogo came to the Bearcats in May after his coach Mark Madsen and many teammates left Utah Valley. In UC’s quarterfinal loss in the NIT to the Wolverines he had 15 points and 12 rebounds. He averaged 11.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in 2022-23.
Reynolds also played against the Bearcats for Temple last season and transferred in April. He averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Owls and had 12 points and five rebounds against UC in their American Athletic Association quarterfinal loss to the Bearcats last March.
“They make us way better,” Ody Oguama said recently of going against the pair in practice. “They’re highly respected guys and freak athletes. Going against them every day makes everyone better. Not just me, the guards as well working on their games learning how to feed the post or throw lobs.”
As for the now-eligible Bandaogo, Miller said this of the Senegal native at Big 12 Media Days this summer:
“An elite shot blocker. Elite rim protection. Elite ability to cover ground defensively. Having coached him all summer, he’s even better than I thought. He’s more versatile. He can switch out on guards. Offensively, his threat to catch a lob or to put pressure on the front of the rim is as good as I’ve ever seen on the college basketball court.”
When to see Bandaogo
UC plays Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Arena vs. Georgia Tech. Bandaogo had warmed up prior to the NKU game but then watched in sweats with teammate Reynolds. Reynolds got shots up after the game. Both players have been part of practices but did not play in any “secret” scrimmages prior to the season.
The Enquirer will add to this story as more information becomes available.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: UC Bearcat big man Aziz Bandaogo cleared to play by NCAA