Center's availability for tournaments undetermined

Updated: March 8, 2004, 5:19 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Connecticut will move "very carefully" in determining center Emeka Okafor's availability for the Big East tournament this week in the hopes of increasing his chances of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Okafor, who's been suffering from back spasms all season, had an MRI on Monday. Results were not immediately available.

He will make the trip to New York for the Big East tournament. The coaching staff discussed keeping him out of the event, and whether he plays will not be determined until Thursday. UConn likely will be either a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament; the conference tournament should not affect its seeding.

Okafor, an ESPN.com first team All-American and leading candidate for national player of the year honors, is averaging 18.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots a game.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers men's college basketball for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com