A tough offseason for Oregon just got tougher, as Ray Kasongo has been denied admission into the university, according to reports.
Kasongo is a 6-foot-7 forward from Canada who spent last season at Faith Christian School in Arizona. He initially picked Oregon over UConn, but it was a process, as he announced his decision two different times back in October.
It’s unclear why Kasongo was not allowed to enroll in the school, as Adam Zagoria is reporting that he qualified.
Whatever the case may be, Kasongo immediately becomes the best front court player available in the Class of 2014. Teams that are thin along their front line will be lining up to get a shot at landing him.
Kasongo is the fourth player that Oregon expected to have on their roster that will not be allowed at school for the 2014-2015 season. The other three — Brandon Austin, Dominic Artis and Damyeon Dotson — were accused of sexual assault by a female student. The Ducks already looked like they were going to be thin this season, and losing a big body like Kasongo certainly won’t help.
The Ducks will be left with just nine scholarship players on their roster, if you include Jalil Abdul-Bassit. Joseph Young and Elgin Cook are the only two that played significant minutes this past season. Even without Kasongo, Dana Altman has landed a promising incoming class of six players — JuCo transfers Jordan Bell, Michael Chandler and Dwayne Benjamin along with freshmen JaQuan Lyle, Ahmad Rorie and Casey Benson — but those are a lot of new faces to blend into a program in one season.
But here’s the other concerning part of this: Lyle, a top 25 recruit and the jewel of this class, has reportedly not yet been admitted, according to DuckTerritory.com. If he doesn’t get in, Oregon is going to be in for a tough season.
With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.
Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.
“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”
Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.
Duke is coming off of a national championship but the roster will look almost completely different for the 2015-16 season. That means last season’s approach to things on the offensive and defensive end will have to change and head coach Mike Krzyzewski mentioned to reporters on Friday how the Blue Devils are still figuring some things out.
“We’re putting in a different offensive system, to personalize it for these guys,” Krzyzewski said to reporters. “And a different defensive system so that we can max out on the talents that they have.
“We’re really proud of our team. I think we’re going to be a really good team.”
Without Jahlil Okafor in the middle, Duke’s offense could shift to a mostly perimeter-oriented team, as the wing and guard depth is superior for this year’s group. Coach K and his staff making adjustments to schemes to fit personnel is a nice move from the Hall of Famer, as he’s done a better job in recent years of making adjustments like this after his stint with USA Basketball.
As the program moves on from Okafor, Tyus Jones, Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook, it’ll be intriguing to see who emerges as a potential go-to offensive player early in the season and how Duke’s offense potentially evolves as the season wears on.