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Elijah Olaniyi announces return to Stony Brook after one season with Miami

Elijah Olaniyi with the ball during the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s home opener on Nov. 5, 2019 against Yale. He is returning to Stony Brook after one season with the Miami Hurricanes. EMMA HARRIS/STATESMAN FILE

Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Less than a year ago, Elijah Olaniyi departed from the Stony Brook men’s basketball team in what amounted to be a “mass exodus” for the program, with the entire Seawolves starting five transferring out. On Friday, April 2, he announced that he would be returning to Stony Brook after playing a season with the Miami Hurricanes.

Olaniyi entered the transfer portal again on March 25. He played 21 games for Miami in the 2020-21 season, starting 18 of them, but was expected to sit out the entire year due to transfer rules before the NCAA ruled in December that all transfers would be immediately eligible. 

After joining the team, he averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while shooting at a 42% rate. The Hurricanes finished 10-17 (4-15 ACC), in 13th place and were bounced from the conference tournament in the quarterfinals 70-66 by Georgia Tech.

His return will undoubtedly bolster a Stony Brook team that struggled to a 9-14 record, its worst winning percentage in 13 seasons, without him. The Seawolves, who shot 30% from three-point range last season, will immediately benefit from Olaniyi’s outside game — he led the team with a 36% rate from beyond the arc in 2019-20. Olaniyi, a first team All-Conference selection in 2020, was also Stony Brook’s leader in points (18.0) and assists (2.1) per game while finishing second in rebounds (6.5).

Olaniyi, along with Andrew Garcia and Makale Foreman, entered the transfer portal out of Stony Brook in May 2020. Garcia was the first to announce his intentions, setting off a domino effect that saw all three stars leave for Power Five programs. 

However, despite the brighter lights, none of them ended up on teams that reached the NCAA Tournament. Miami, Georgia and California all finished with losing records in conference play, and neither made it further than the quarterfinals in their respective conference tournament.

Olaniyi scored 1,135 points during his three seasons at Stony Brook, good enough for eighth all-time in the program’s Division I history. He trails Jameel Warney, Bryan Dougher, D.J. Munir, Carson Puriefoy, Mitchell Beauford, Akwasi Yeboah and Dave Coley.

It is currently unknown how the rest of Stony Brook’s roster will play out with the extra year of eligibility granted to all players, but Olaniyi’s return to Long Island instantly puts the Seawolves in a better position for a bounceback season.

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