UConn center, coaches to discuss availability

Connecticut junior center Emeka Okafor was set to return to the Huskies' New York hotel after 8 p.m. Wednesday following a one-day visit with a back specialist in Dallas. He will meet with the Connecticut coaching staff to determine his playing status for the Big East tournament.

The purpose of the trip, according to sources, was to get an independent doctor's opinion on his back after only hearing from University of Connecticut-affiliated physicians. Okafor has been told that his back spasms are going to flare up repeatedly but he wanted a second opinion before deciding on his playing status.

If he is cleared to play then the decision to participate could be left up to Okafor. The Huskies will hold a shootaround Thursday before playing either Notre Dame or West Virginia in the Big East quarterfinals at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

The Huskies hope to have a decision on his playing status late Wednesday, but it may not be known until after Thursday's shootaround.

Okafor was named the Big East player of the year Tuesday night. Okafor, who will graduate in three years, is projected as the top pick in the June NBA draft.