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.