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Oregon picks up commitment from Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi

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Oregon picked up one of the best transfers on the market on Monday night as Rutgers forward Eugene Omoruyi pledged to the Ducks.

One of the Big Ten’s breakout players last season, the 6-foot-7 Omoruyi put up 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Scarlet Knights as the junior shot 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.

Hit hard with NBA draft early entries, Oregon has rebounded nicely with transfers over the past week. Omoruyi will likely need to sit out this season to play his final season, but he’s potentially a starter who averages double figures once he enters the lineup. The Ducks also took a commitment from perimeter specialist Anthony Mathis last week as the Oregon native will play with former high school teammate Payton Pritchard for his final season.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman has done a great job of hitting the transfer market to boost the talent of his roster each spring as the Ducks have stayed NCAA tournament contenders despite yearly losses. The Ducks will likely pursue some more transfer options as they still have more scholarships to fill.

Oregon lands key grad transfer in New Mexico guard Anthony Mathis

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Oregon picked up one of the nation’s best graduate transfers on Wednesday night as New Mexico guard Anthony Mathis pledged to the Ducks.

A native of West Linn, Oregon, Mathis will head close to home to finish out his college career as he joins former high school teammate Payton Pritchard to form the new backcourt for the Ducks. A sharpshooter who received his fifth year of NCAA eligibility in mid-April, Mathis has been a double-figure scorer the past two seasons for the Lobos as he averaged 14.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range last season.

Since Oregon only returns three scholarship players from last season (Pritchard, Will Richardson and Francis Okoro), the addition of Mathis is important since he can come in and contribute right away for the Ducks. Head coach Dana Altman has been successful with grad transfers in the past, including guard Ehab Amin last season as Mathis provides important insurance in case a highly-touted four-man recruiting class isn’t ready to all contribute right away.

The Pritchard and Mathis backcourt should be one of the better duos in the Pac-12 as this addition makes Oregon dangerous once again.

Pac-12 loosens intra-conference transfer rule

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The Pac-12 approved a measure Monday that will lighten restrictions on players that want to transfer to schools within the conference.

Players who now make an intra-conference transfer will no longer be subject to an immediate loss of a season of eligibility, the conference announced.

“This rule change removes one of the last remaining penalties associated with transferring between Conference schools,” the league said in a press release, “and is designed to provide student-athletes with a similar experience to any other student who decides to transfer.”

The league also has passed rules to beef up its non-conference schedule as programs will be required to a non-conference five-year trailing average of opponents’ NET ranking must be 175 or less, no participation in road buy games, no regular season games against non-Division I opponents and no road games versus a non-conference opponent with a five-year trailing average of 200 NET. Those requirements, along with the move to a 20-game conference schedule, come in response to continued struggles by the league in basketball, with last season seeing the league flirt with being a one-bid NCAA tournament conference. Ultimately, its league champion, Washington, received a No. 9 seed with Oregon getting a 12 and Arizona State an 11 and a First Four invitation.

 

Kenny Wooten writes he won’t return to Oregon

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Kenny Wooten took to Instagram on Monday to discuss his future.

“I know I’ve waited a very long time to answer this question,” Wooten wrote in response to a question from a fan, “but I will not be coming back for year 3.”

Presumably that means that Wooten means to continue to pursue a professional career after declaring for the NBA draft after his sophomore season. He competed at the G-Leage Elite minicamp last week in Chicago along with a host of other draft hopefuls.

The 6-foot-9 California native averaged 6.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting 58.9 percent from the field. At the moment, it’s likely that Wooten would have to pursue a path to the NBA that includes the G-League.

Wooten makes it a loss of seven players from last year’s Sweet 16 squad for coach Dana Altman, who also saw Bol Bol and Louis King go to the draft. Payton Pritchard Jr., who averaged nearly 13 points per game as a junior, has also declared, but has not indicated if he plans to stay in or return to school.

UC Irvine coach Russ Turner refers to Oregon’s Louis King as ‘Queen’

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There are all kind of great and interesting postgame press conferences after NCAA tournament games. There’s emotion, there’s intrigue, there’s detailed explanations of rebounding.

Sunday produced a cringe-worthy exchange from UC Irvine head coach Russ Turner.

The Anteaters coach explained why he repeatedly referred to Oregon freshman forward Louis King as “Queen.”

“I was saying double team Queen to try to see if I could irritate him. And I did,” Turner told the media. “And I kept talking to my team about what we wanted to do. We were calling him queen, because I knew it might irritate him, because of how important he is to their team, the queen in chess. It was a play on his name of King.

“And it bothered him, started thinking about me, started thinking about (UC Irvine junior) Max (Hazzard). But he came back and finished the game really strong. And he’d had a thing or two to say to me during the game, and I wanted to let him know that what I’d done was out of respect.”

There’s a lot to unpack here beyond the simple fact that he seems proud of something that just isn’t funny unless you have the sense of humor of a seven-year old.

Seriously, Queen? That’s the best you got?

Moving on, the excuse of King being Oregon’s chess piece or whatever is an extremely flimsy one. Even if you take Russell at his word, you have to be incredibly obtuse to refer to a man whose last name is King as “queen” is going to be interpreted as sexist or homophobic. Even if you didn’t mean it that way – which, I mean, c’mon – that will literally be nearly everyone’s understanding of it. A coach trying to emasculate a player. In this day and age, that’s just incredibly dumb to do.

Which brings us to the next point:

Why is Turner talking trash to a player to begin with? This isn’t a coach yelling out defensive assignments during a free throw or refusing to move from wherever he’s standing on the sideline when an opponent might feel a little squeezed by his presence there. Turner admitted to out-and-out trash talking of a player. That would be the man getting paid getting paid serious money to coach serious money to coach a game talking smack to a kid a year removed from high school who, as you’ll surely remember, is getting zero dollars to be there, even if he’s part of the reason the NCAA tournament hauls in billions of dollars and UC Irvine can afford to pay its coach reportedly in the mid-six figures.

But there’s even more to this.

Turner is a name that quite a few people have mentioned for jobs on the west coast. He’s in the mix for Cal. He’s in the mix for Washington State. He has a shot to take that mid-six figure salary and make it one with two commas and a crooked number in front in the coming weeks.

He also is a guy that already has the reputation in college basketball circles of being a jerk.

We’ve seen other coaches in a similar position – Eric Musselman, Danny Hurley, etc. — put out a different public image when they knew they were in line for a big pay bump.

Turner decides to brag on the podium after a tournament loss that he called Louis King “Queen.”

I’m sure it’s possible to do something dumber than this, but beyond jumping rope with a downed high voltage cable, I can’t think of anything.

NCAA Tournament 2019: Instant Analysis South Region

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The South Region is led by some top seeds who were bounced early in the NCAA tournament last season as Virginia and Tennessee look to redeem themselves after strong seasons.

The South Region is led by No. 1 seed Virginia. Following last season’s stunning loss to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round, the Cavaliers will get a chance to redeem themselves against No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb, the champions of the Big South.

The No. 8/9 matchup is a matchup between SEC and Big 12 as Ole Miss and Oklahoma battle. The Rebels were one of the most pleasant surprises of any team in the field this season while Oklahoma has won some games down the stretch to earn another bid.

Wisconsin draws the No. 5 seed as the Ethan Happ-led Badgers get a major test in No. 12 seed and Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon. Although the Ducks struggled during the regular season — particularly after the loss of star freshman Bol Bol — they’re a dangerous team with two recent wins over Washington.

ANALYSIS: East | South | West | Midwest

The No. 4 seed is Kansas State as they are still hoping to get senior forward Dean Wade (foot) healthy enough to play in the NCAA tournament after he missed all of last season’s Elite Eight run for the Wildcats. They’ll face No. 13 seed UC Irvine, the champions of the Big West.

Defending champion Villanova drew no favors from the committee with the No. 6 seed. There hasn’t been a No. 6 seed in the Final Four since 1992 as the Wildcats will have an uphill battle to make the Final Four for the third time in four years. They draw No. 11 seed Saint Mary’s as the Gaels gained a lot of momentum in winning the WCC title over No. 1 seed Gonzaga.

Earning a surprising share of the Big Ten regular-season title this season, Purdue draws the No. 3 seed as they get a tough first-round opponent in No. 14 seed Old Dominion.

The committee also didn’t help No. 7 seed Cincinnati as the Bearcats had an impressive showing in an AAC title-game win over Houston on Sunday. The Bearcats will face No. 10 seed Iowa in a clash of styles and tempo.

After falling short in the SEC tournament title game, No. 2 seed Tennessee gets a matchup with No. 15 seed Colgate — a program making its first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years. Although the Raiders feature the Patriot League Player of the Year in forward Rapolas Ivanauskas, they’ll face one of the best frontcourts in the tournament with the Vols’ veteran combo of Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield.