While USC lost its smallest player on Wednesday as 5-7 guard Maurice Jones tweeted his decision to transfer, the Trojans picked up some more size in the form of 7-2 Rice transfer Omar Oraby.
Oraby, a native of Cairo, Egypt, averaged 6.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game last season with his 54 blocks setting a school record.
His departure raised the number of players to leave the Rice program this off-season to five, while his arrival in Los Angeles means that Kevin O’Neill now has three 7-footers in the program.
Senior James Blasczyk and redshirt junior Dewayne Dedmon will have someone else to battle in practice, and the school plans to file a hardship waiver on Oraby’s behalf in hopes of making him eligible for games immediately.
If the NCAA denies the request Oraby will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2013-14 campaign, a year in which they’ll need his size and experience.
Blasczyk and Tennessee transfer Renaldo Woolridge will be out of eligibility (wings Aaron Fuller and Eric Wise will be as well), meaning that USC will need some size inside in 2013-14.
USC has 6-10 forward Nikola Jovanovic and 6-6 wing Roschon Prince on board next season, and those additions will help the numbers in the front court as well.
Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: