Maybe Kasongo isn’t committed to Oregon after all. Stay tuned.)
At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season the Oregon Ducks will lose three front court upperclassmen in Richard Amardi, Waverly Austin and Mike Moser. This fact means that the Ducks, who would return Ben Carter and Jordan Bell (and Arik Armstead, who’s a member of the Ducks’ football team), needed to land some more interior muscle for its 2014 recruiting class.
On Wednesday evening head coach Dana Altman received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-9 power forward Ray Kasongo, who chose the Ducks over UConn according to multiple outlets. UConn, which received a commitment from Buford, Ga. power forward Rakim Lubin on Monday, was looking to land a second 2014 power forward within a three-day span.
Kasongo joins point guard Casey Benson and wing Dwayne Benjamin in Oregon’s 2014 class. A native of Canada, Kasongo currently attends Phase 1 Academy in Phoenix and has the athletic ability needed to be an impact player for the Ducks when he arrives on campus next summer.
And that’s important given the aforementioned roster issues for the Ducks at the end of this season. Bell has yet to play a college game, and Carter posted averages of 2.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as a freshman last season. Carter played an average of just 10.4 minutes per game in 2012-13, a number that’s likely to rise given the fact that Arsalan Kazemi and Tony Woods are no longer a part of the front court rotation.
But it should be noted that under Altman the Ducks have enjoyed success when it comes to recruiting transfers, and given the rising number of players who seek “greener pastures” thanks to possibilities such as the graduate student waiver many have taken advantage of there may be additional options from which to choose next spring.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.