Tyler Olander is now back in the fold two weeks before the official start of the 2013-14 men's basketball season. He had been suspended indefinitely last month after his second legal entanglement, this time a DUI. But the charges were later dropped and on Thursday, Olander rejoined his teammates, adding some much-needed front-court depth in the process.
Last week, coach Kevin Ollie said “First and foremost I want Tyler to get better as a person, as a young man … I’d like him to play, but it’s on him."
On Thursday, the coach explained the decision to reinstate Olander.
"Tyler has demonstrated to me an added level of responsibility and maturity," Ollie said, via the Hartford Courant. "His time management has been outstanding, his academic work has been excellent. We have spoken at length and I thought it was time that he be given the chance to rejoin his teammates."
Two weeks ago, Olander didn't want his off-court troubles to be his legacy at UConn.
"I hope people don't see this as a reflection of who I am," he said on Sept. 23. "I hope they see I'm a good kid. I've just made some mistakes, as everybody does."
Senior point guard Shabazz Napier, who is also Olander's roommate, agreed. He said he thought the big man did the right thing on Sept. 7, driving for a friend who had too much to drink. Olander was arrested for driving under the influence but because his blood alcohol content test showed him under the legal limit, the charges were dropped. He did have to pay a $75 fine for driving without a license.
"I know people say Tyler made a bad decision,” Napier said at the time, “but I think he made a good decision. He drove to help out some people who couldn’t drive. He did what he thought was the best thing he could do. Sometimes you’re in situations where you’re helping people you can get in trouble yourself.”
With Olander's fate now decided, the Huskies only be without one of their big men from last year's squad: Enosch Wolf, who signed with a German professional team over the summer. That leaves Olander, DeAndre Daniels, Phil Nolan and Leon Tolksdorf, and freshman Amida Brimah. There's also Kentan Facey, another freshman, who is considered the more polished of the two. The hope is that Facey, whose eligibility is currently under review, will be cleared by the NCAA.