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Report: Forward Cristiano Felicio won’t be attending Oregon

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With the loss of four players from last year’s front court, Oregon was hopeful that incoming freshman Cristiano Felicio would be one of the players who could help the Ducks replenish their ranks in the paint. At 6-9, 245, the Brazilian had the size and talent needed to be a factor inside for head coach Dana Altman as Oregon looks to make its second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16.

Unfortunately for Oregon the freshman won’t be joining the program, as it was reported by Matt Prehm of Duck Territory that Felicio will not be cleared by the NCAA. Apparently there was concern that Felicio, who has reportedly signed a professional contract with a team in Brazil, signed a professional contract while attending high school in his native country.

With he and the school unable to prove that this was not the case according to Prehm’s report, Felicio will continue his career in Brazil with an eye towards entering the 2015 NBA Draft.

So where does this leave Oregon? With the additions of UNLV transfer Mike Moser, junior college transfer Richard Amardi and freshman Jordan Bell, the Ducks won’t lack for numbers inside. But the issue comes with the 2014-15 campaign, as Prehm points out.

The loss of Felicio hurts Oregon’s front court depth with just five true post players on roster. The loss of Felicio won’t hurt Oregon in 2013-14 as as much as it will in 2014-15 due to three (Mike Moser, Waverly Austin, and Richard Amardi) of the five remaining post players being seniors. Oregon however will return just two (Jordan Bell and Ben Carter) players after this upcoming season who can play center or power forward for the Ducks and Oregon was counting on Felicio being a key cog as a sophomore.

This puts a premium on Oregon’s coaching staff to find multiple post prospects who can come into the Oregon program and a play right away for the 2014 recruiting class.

Oregon, which finished the 2012-13 season with a 26-9 record (12-6 Pac-12), ranked second in the Pac-12 in both offensive (35.8%) and defensive (72.8%) rebounding percentage last season. With players such as Kazemi and Woods gone, the hope was that Felicio would be one of the players capable of helping Oregon maintain this level of production on the glass.

With Felicio now out of the picture, Austin (2.7 rpg) and Carter (2.3) will need to be even more productive on the glass this season.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.