NCAA grants Cincinnati's Aziz Bandaogo immediate eligibility

Cincinnati center Aziz Bandaogo will be eligible to play immediately after new information emerged that prompted the NCAA to reconsider his waiver appeal.

Bandaogo, a transfer from Utah Valley, had had his initial mental health waiver and appeal denied because he had transferred twice. In the face of pending litigation set to be filed Monday afternoon, the NCAA first asked for a three-hour extension and then elected to reverse course upon receiving new information from the university.

"It's been a very challenging month for me," Bandaogo said in a statement sent to ESPN. "I want to thank the University of Cincinnati, the administration, our president and athletic Director, my coaching staff and especially my Head Coach Wes Miller, for being there for me and supporting me through the hard times I have been dealing with. I'm very grateful for all the support and effort. I can't wait to officially step on the court and represent the University of Cincinnati."

The NCAA had declared its intent to crack down on waivers for two-time transfers, saying it would grant them only if "student-athletes demonstrated and adequately documented a personal need for medical or safety reasons to depart their previous school."

Cincinnati, 4-0 to start the season, will host Georgia Tech on Wednesday for Bandaogo's first game in a Bearcats uniform.

"We are pleased that the NCAA has granted Aziz Bandaogo's eligibility. It was the right decision -- and, even though it was belated, we appreciate the NCAA's decision nonetheless," Bandaogo's legal team said in a statement. "We could not be more grateful to Aziz, his family, Coach Miller and his wonderful assistant coaches, and to the Athletic Director and the University of Cincinnati for their willingness to keep pushing to correct this wrong.

"We also want to thank Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and his team for their efforts in this matter."

Bandaogo, a 7-foot junior from Senegal, averaged 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks last season. He ranked as the third-best shot-blocker in college basketball and was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year, helping Utah Valley make the NIT Final Four, where it lost to UAB.

An NBA Academy Africa alumnus, Bandaogo was one of the most improved players last season. He went from playing just 14 total minutes as a freshman to averaging 2.7 points in 12 minutes as a sophomore at Akron before exploding as a junior into one of the best big men in mid-major basketball.

His coach at Utah Valley, Mark Madsen, departed for Cal in the offseason after his team's excellent season in which the Wolverines went 28-9 (15-3 in conference).

Bandaogo's size, mobility, rebounding and shot-blocking prowess should help him make an immediate impact in the Big 12. He will have one more season of eligibility remaining after this one concludes.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.