After navigating a lack of depth at the point to win the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and earn the program’s first-ever one seed in the NCAA tournament, Oregon will have no such issues in 2016-17. Dylan Ennis, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, is back for another season as is returning starter Casey Benson. Add in freshman Payton Pritchard, whose shooting ability can help a team that struggled from three a season ago, and Dana Altman has multiple players to call upon at that spot.
That left Kendall Small, who played just under eight minutes per game as a freshman, in a spot where it would have been tough to earn more playing time as a sophomore. As a result he’s decided to transfer, with the news first being reported by Scout.com.
In addition to the three guards mentioned above, sophomore Tyler Dorsey also has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Small will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at whichever school he chooses to transfer to, and he’ll have to sit out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules.
A 6-foot guard from Anaheim, Small’s best outing came in Oregon’s 77-59 win over Savannah State on November 23. In that game Small accounted for nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes of action. But he played double-digit minutes in just four games after the Ducks began Pac-12 play in early January, the last of which being Oregon’s win over Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
While many of the key contributors to a team that was Villanova’s greatest threat in the Big East return, Xavier has some holes to fill in the rebounding department. With James Farr and Jalen Reynolds both moving on, the Musketeers will have to account for the loss of their top two rebounders as the 2016-17 season approaches. Trevon Blueitt, who averaged 6.1 rebounds per game last season, is back, but others including Norfolk State transfer RaShid Gaston and Sean O’Mara will have to step forward for Chris Mack’s team.
Another option is 6-foot-5 forward Malcolm Bernard. Bernard, who played last season at Florida A&M after spending his first two seasons at Charleston Southern, announced Monday that he will join the Xavier program as a graduate student. He’ll be eligible to compete immediately as a result, with one season of eligibility remaining.
As a redshirt junior at Florida A&M Bernard averaged 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, doing the majority of his damage inside of the arc despite playing at a listed weight of just 195 pounds. Bernard also averaged 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game for the Rattlers in 2015-16. Adding a capable rebounder on the wing will help the Musketeers as they look to not only chase down the reigning national champions but also go further in the NCAA tournament than they did last season.
Xavier will return four starters from a team that won 28 games, and went 14-4 in Big East play, before losing to Wisconsin at the buzzer in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Utah now has one less option in their perimeter rotation, as 6-foot-6 wing Kenneth Ogbe has reportedly decided to transfer. News of Ogbe’s decision to leave the Pac-12 program was first reported by CBSSports.com.
After serving as a reserve in each of his first two seasons playing for Larry Krystkowiak, Ogbe had to deal with a groin injury during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Ogbe played in just five games last season as a result of the recurring issue, averaging 5.2 points per contest in those appearances in non-conference play.
With Utah bringing in multiple perimeter players expected to earn minutes in 2016-17, including junior college transfers Jojo Zamora and Tim Coleman and freshman Devon Daniels, getting playing time after sitting out most of last season due to injury appeared to be a tough battle for Ogbe in 2016-17. As a result he joins Isaiah Wright as perimeter players who have decided to leave Utah since the end of the season, with the Runnin’ Utes also losing an possible starter in forward Brekkott Chapman via the transfer route.
Utah has some significant departures to address, most notably lottery pick Jakob Poeltl with Brandon Taylor, Jordan Loveridge and Dakarai Tucker all out of eligibility. But they don’t lack for talent, with the aforementioned newcomers joining returnees such as guard Lorenzo Bonam and forward Kyle Kuzma.
Utah also adds forwards David Collette and Jayce Johnson to the rotation, with Collette sitting out last season after transferring in from Utah State and Johnson being a mid-year enrollee after graduating high school a semester early.
When shooting guard Jordan Mathews announced in late May that he would be leaving California as an immediately eligible transfer, Gonzaga was one of the schools first mentioned as possible destinations. Thursday night Mathews announced via his Twitter account that he has indeed committed to Mark Few’s program, giving the Bulldogs another quality perimeter option in a rotation that was already loaded.
Mathews will be one of two Pac-12 transfers on the Gonzaga roster next season, with former Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss eligible after sitting out last season. They join returnees such as Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, and one of the top perimeter shooters in the Class of 2016 in Zach Norvell in Gonzaga’s perimeter rotation.
Mathews averaged 13.4 points per game at Cal last season, shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. Adding him to a rotation that will not only have talent on the perimeter but in the post as well, with Przemek Karnowski being joined by Missouri transfer Jonathan Williams III and freshmen Zach Collins and Killian Tillie, makes Gonzaga an even tougher team to slow down offensively.
Already the preseason favorites to win the WCC, Gonzaga’s chances of making a national splash (which they were already expected by many to do) are even greater with the addition of Mathews.
h/t Jeff Goodman, ESPN.com
With Nikola Jovanovic turning pro and Darion Clark and Malik Martin both transferring out, USC entered the summer in a position where they could afford to add another front court option to help with depth. Thursday afternoon the Trojans did just that, as former Minnesota forward Charles Buggs has decided to join Andy Enfield’s program.
As a graduate student Buggs will be eligible to compete immediately for the Trojans, who return rising sophomores Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu from last season’s front court rotation. News of Buggs’ decision was first reported by CBSSports.com.
Last season the 6-foot-9 Buggs averaged 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game for Minnesota, shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 3.19 percent from beyond the arc. His best scoring output came in a win over Clemson in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, scoring 15 points, and from a rebounding standpoint his season high of ten came in a loss to Temple in mid-November.
With USC having the aforementioned Boatwright and Metu, not to mention highly regarded incoming freshman Harrison Henderson and another newcomer in Nick Rakocevic, Buggs will simply have to fit into the rotation as opposed to being asked to play a starring role. He gives USC some additional experience in the front court, something they lost with the departures of Jovanovic and Clark.
Having already received a commitment from four-star Class of 2017 shooting guard Jordan Poole, Michigan has added another perimeter prospect who could potentially help them on the court in 2017. NBC Sports confirmed Monday night that former Kentucky guard Charles Matthews has decided to transfer to Michigan. News of Matthews’ decision was first reported by ESPN.com.
Matthews, a Chicago native who played sparingly in his lone season at Kentucky, will have three seasons of eligibility after he sits out the 2016-17 campaign.
Matthews can spend the upcoming season enhancing his skill set while learning John Beilein’s offensive system, and he’ll do so practicing against upperclassmen such as rising senior Zak Irvin and rising junior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman. Matthews, who adds length and athleticism on the wing for Michigan, played just over ten minutes per game as a freshman last season.
With Kentucky bringing in another loaded recruiting class that included guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, as well as the return of Isaiah Briscoe, Matthews was facing another tough fight for minutes had he remained in Lexington for another season.
Before picking Michigan Matthews was also considering Xavier as a possible destination, and he visited both campuses this month.