Given the fact that former Rice teammate Omar Oraby was declared eligible to play for USC a week ago, many felt it was only a matter of time before Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi was cleared to play as well.
According to multiple outlets the school was notified this afternoon that Kazemi, who was a second team All-Conference USA selection last season, is eligible to play immediately beginning with the Ducks’ game against Vanderbilt tomorrow night.
Oregon announced the new itself via the basketball program’s Twitter account.
Big news for us today. Arsalan Kazemi was declared eligible. The fans will love his energy and effort.—
UO Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) November 15, 2012
Kazemi averaged a double-double in each of his last two seasons at Rice, and the 6-7 Iranian accounted for 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest in 2011-12.
Kazemi was one of six players to leave the Rice program in the months following the 2011-12 campaign. And while he and Oraby will play immediately three others are sitting this season per NCAA transfer rules (Jarelle Reischel/Rhode Island, Dylan Ennis/Villanova and David Chadwick/Valparaiso) and Ahmad Ibrahim turned pro.
Kazemi gives Oregon a productive front court option to slide into a rotation that’s leaned upon centers Tony Woods and Waverly Austin in the paint with freshman Ben Carter averaging just over 13 minutes per game off the bench.
Kazemi immediately becomes Oregon’s best rebounder, and it will be interesting to see how much of a boost this turns out to be for a team picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.
With this news Oregon should be a factor in the crowded midsection of the Pac-12 and a possibility for postseason play.
UPDATE 15 November 2012, 8:22 p.m.
Rice has released a statement in response to Kazemi’s transfer, explaining the school’s position on the move. It was first reported by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com:
“As a matter of policy, Rice University avoids commenting on personnel matters or matters before the NCAA. However, allegations involving two former men’s basketball players require a brief response.
In September 2012, two student-athletes received permission from Rice to transfer to the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon. Both schools have sought a waiver of the NCAA’s one-year residency rule so that the students can compete in the upcoming basketball season. Unfortunately, USC and Oregon have included in those waiver applications meritless allegations of discrimination, including some previously asserted by a former assistant basketball coach whose contract was not renewed last spring.
Rice head basketball Coach Ben Braun and Athletics Director Rick Greenspan strongly deny those allegations. Rice University has a strong institutional commitment to tolerance and diversity, and both Braun and Greenspan share those values and provide services and programs that accommodate the needs of a diverse student-athlete population.
Rice does not stand in the way of student-athletes who may wish to compete elsewhere, consistent with NCAA rules. When these two student-athletes requested Rice’s permission to explore transfers to other universities, Rice readily agreed, as it has in the past for other student-athletes. However, the efforts by USC and Oregon to set aside NCAA rules have included unfounded claims of discrimination and, as a result, Rice opposed the granting of the waivers and will address the allegations of discrimination in appropriate forums.
Rice University has a long history of successful, rule-compliant athletics programs that support its student-athletes in the field of play, as well as in the classroom and community, and it fully intends to defend that honorable record.”
Photo credit: University of Oregon