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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

UConn has a lot to lose if Roscoe Smith gets eligible right away at UNLV

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Roscoe Smith (AP)

If the NCAA grants transfer Roscoe Smith's petition to play immediately at UNLV next season without sitting out a full year, that decision will impact more than just the Rebels.

It also could cause major problems for Smith's former school.

UConn officials are worried that giving Smith a waiver could open the floodgates to other players on its roster seeking to transfer, ESPN.com reported Friday. The basis for Smith's waiver is that he left UConn because the school is banned from the postseason next year as a penalty for its sub-standard APR scores.

The NCAA has previously only granted transfers immediate eligibility if their former school's postseason ban is longer than the length of their remaining eligibility. Senior Alex Oriakhi will be eligible right away at Missouri next season because of that interpretation, but Smith is a junior and would only receive a waiver if the NCAA altered its policy.

UConn's concerns about the stability of its roster could certainly be valid if Smith becomes eligible next season. At the very least, you can be certain there would be opposing coaches sending feelers through back channels to guards Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier to let them know immediate playing time is available if they opted to leave.

The other interesting aspect of Smith's waiver request is that UNLV might be better off it gets denied. While it's understandable that Smith would want to play right away next season, where exactly is he going to play?

UNLV has both returning star Mike Moser and McDonald's All-American Anthony Bennett at both forward spots along with big men Khem Birch, Carlos Lopez and Quintrell Thomas all seeking playing time. Smith would provide depth, but the Rebels would be far better served if he practiced against those guys next year and assumed a starting forward role the following season when/if one of the incumbents presumably enters the draft.

History suggests it's unlikely Smith will get his waiver, but the NCAA has been a bit more lenient than usual this offseason so far. Whatever happens, both Smith's current and former school will be watching closely.

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