Just before the start of the Atlantic 10 tournament, 7-foot center D.J. Haley made the decision to leave the VCU basketball program in order to concentrate on his academics. In three seasons at the school Haley started 48 of the 102 games in which he played, averaging 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
In announcing Haley’s decision to no longer play at VCU, head coach Shaka Smart made the following statement:
“We appreciate DJ’s contributions to our program over the past three years. Unfortunately, he has decided that his heart is no longer invested in basketball. Clearly it takes a significant commitment to compete as a student-athlete at this level and we understand that DJ’s priorities have changed. We wish DJ nothing but the best for his future.”
Having completed his undergraduate studies, Haley’s decided to play his senior season…at USC, where he’ll be eligible to play immediately due to his having graduated.
Haley joins a program that has a new head coach in Andy Enfield, and the program also doesn’t have much in the way of front court depth. Senior Omar Oraby is the most experienced returnee, as he averaged 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2012-13.
USC adds power forward Nikola Jovanovich, and given their options at small forward (veterans Ari Stewart and Byron Wesley, and freshman Roschon Prince), it’s likely a safe assumption that the Trojans will go “small” at certain points this season. But with some of the front court players both arriving and returning to the Pac-12, USC needs all the help they can find in the paint. Haley will help USC in this regard.