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Rhode Island adds forward Ifeanyi Onyekaba, but will he be allowed to play this season?

Sep 21, 2012, 3:36 PM EDT

Dan Hurley

Given the fact that Rhode Island has a limited roster this season with three transfers having to sit out, any help that first-year head coach Dan Hurley can find is more than welcome in Kingston.

Last week it was Northeastern transfer Alwayne Bigby who joined the program, and his status as a graduate student allows him to take the floor immediately for the Rams.

And according to Andy Katz of ESPN.com Hurley has made another addition to the roster, this time adding 6-8, 240-pound Nigerian Ifeanyi Onyekaba.

But will Onyekaba, who was expected by many to be a 2013 product out of Virginia Episcopal School, be cleared to take the floor this season?

That’s the question that remains to be answered, and if he’s allowed to suit up the Rams would be up to ten eligible players.

“He has enrolled but right now we’re working with our (rules) compliance office and the NCAA’s Eligibility Center on his case,” Hurley told Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.

And given how much stronger the Atlantic 10 has become with not only the additions of Butler and VCU but also the amount of talent that some of the conference mainstays return, URI fans likely have their fingers crossed in the hope that Onyekaba is cleared to play.

Jim Baron’s dismissal capped what was a horrendous 2011-12 campaign for Rhode Island, and the troubles weren’t limited to the games as they posted their lowest win total (seven) since the 2004-05 season (six wins).

Talented forward Jonathan Holton was dismissed from school for multiple legal issues, Jamal Wilson was dismissed from the program in December and Billy Baron transferred to play for his father at Canisius.

And forward Orion Outerbridge graduated, meaning that Hurley was essentially working with a blank canvas when he was hired in the spring.

With talented transfers Gilvydas Biruta (Rutgers), DeShon Minnis (Texas Tech) and Jarrelle Reischel (Rice) sitting out this season the Rams won’t have the same depth issues in 2013-14.

But they have to deal with the 2012-13 campaign first, and while Onyekaba being allowed to play wouldn’t make them a lock to reach the 12-team Atlantic 10 tournament it certainly wouldn’t hurt matters.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.