In their final season as a member of the WAC the Denver Pioneers managed to win a share of the regular season conference title, with forwards Chris Udofia and Royce O’Neale and guards Chase Hallam and Brett Olson leading the way.
The Pioneers are moving to the Summit League, and they may have to do so without two of those key contributors. Hallam is out of eligibility, and on Friday the school announced that O’Neale’s request to be released from his scholarship has been granted.
O’Neale, a native of Kileen, Texas, made the request due to the health of his grandfather, according to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.
“Royce has a personal situation at home in Killeen, Texas,” head coach Joe Scott said in a statement released by the school. “He has requested a release to explore schools that would place him in close proximity to his family. We are understanding and supportive, and therefore have granted Royce a release to those schools.
“As we do this, we are and have been working on a plan for him to stay at the University of Denver while also meeting and supporting his family needs. We are exploring all options to help him.”
If they’re able to work out something to where O’Neale is able to take care of the situation and remain at Denver, the Pioneers would be in position to be one of the preseason favorites to win the Summit League crown.
As a sophomore the 6-5 O’Neale averaged 11.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, leading the Pioneers in both rebounding and assists, earning third-team All-WAC honors.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.