Rice coach Ben Braun had problems with turnover before, but he might’ve just received this season’s finishing blow.
Owl’s senior-to-be Arsalan Kazemi has requested and received a release from his scholarship and is looking to transfer to a high-major school for his final season of eligibility, the school announced in a release.
The release also states that Kazemi may explore “professional career opportunities”.
“I’m trying to go to a high-major program for my final season,” Kazemi told Goodman. “Those are the schools I’m interested in, but I’ll also consider other schools.”
Those schools Kazemi listed were Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, Cincinnati and Oregon.
The 6-7 Iran native averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds for Rice last season, helping them to a 19-16 record and an 8-8 record in Conference USA.
This is a worst-case scenario for Braun and the Owls. As Goodman points out in his story, they’ve already lost five players off last season’s team to transfer or to playing professionally, but at least they hadn’t lost a conference player of the year candidate in Kazemi. Now he’s gone too. Another of Rice’s top scorers, Connor Frizzelle, was part of those who left, being that he exhausted his eligibility.
In the end, Rice has now lost six of it’s top seven players and has only five returners. That’s turnover, homes.
Braun is going to have to rely heavily on a five-man recruiting class and hope someone else shows up. Tamir Jackson averaged 10.5 points per game, second behind Kazemi, last season. After him, Julian DeBose is the top returning player, averaging 3.7 points and 0.8 assists in 12.8 minutes per game.