Javion Ogunyemi, who transferred back to Siena shortly after leaving for Boston University, was declared eligible by NCAA Friday, allowing him to return to Saints without sitting out. (Photo courtesy of 4 Guys In Blazers)
Siena already had an experience edge on their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference counterparts in the frontcourt, and that was without Javion Ogunyemi.
Now, the junior forward, who returned to Siena several weeks after initially departing in favor of Boston University, will be able to pick up where he left off for the Saints without the penalty of having to redshirt for a year.
"It's a great feeling," a relieved Ogunyemi said shortly after receiving word that he was eligible. "Ever since I've been back, I've just been worried about if I could play or not. To finally find out I can play is very stress-relieving."
A native of nearby Troy, New York, Ogunyemi averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore for a Siena team that stumbled to an 11-20 record just one season after winning the CBI championship, as the season-ending injuries of Brett Bisping and Imoh Silas left the Saints bereft of the interior depth they now possess an abundance of. Speculation arose as to whether or not he would be eligible after his offseason transfer to Boston University, where he had attended summer classes and participated in team workouts before having a change of heart and returning to Loudonville.
"I'm happy for Javion," Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos said in a release issued by the college on Friday afternoon. "He's a great person and he's been through a lot. He deserves some good news. Obviously, we're thrilled to have him back and I know our fans will be thrilled to see him on the court."
Patsos had hinted earlier in the week that Ogunyemi would almost certainly resume his spot in the starting lineup if he were eligible. If not, the coach was prepared to start freshman Evan Fisher down low, but can now wean the Baltimore native along gradually as Ogunyemi joins Bisping, Silas, and Lavon Long in what may be the most battle-tested front line in the MAAC.
"I couldn't help but do anything than just smile," a visibly beaming Ogunyemi revealed upon his reaction. "I was very happy, Coach was very happy for me, my teammates were very happy for me. It was just a great feeling."
Ogunyemi will make his return almost immediately, as Siena hosts Indiana (Pa.) in an exhibition game Monday night to begin their 2015-16 season.