Duke picked up one of the most sought-after transfers on the market on Monday when former Rice big man Sean Obi committed to the Blue Devils, Obi announced on his Instagram.
“Happy to officially announce that I will be attending Duke university for the rest of my college basketball career. Very thankful for all the support and love from my family and friends all over, and also to every college Coach that have called and been in involved with me through out this process. Duke it is!!,” Obi said in the post.
The 6-foot-9, 265-pound Obi had a monster freshman season for the Owls as he averaged 11.4 points and a Conference USA-leading 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the field. NCAA transfer rules dictate that Obi must sit out next season, but he’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining after that.
This is especially big for Duke because with incoming freshman center Jahlil Okafor being a potential one-and-done big man, the Blue Devils have a backup plan on the interior in case the Chicago-native leaves as anticipated for the 2015 NBA Draft.
Less than 48 hours after Mike Rhoades, Rice’s new head coach, first met his players in the school’s weight room, Rhoades will have to plan for the upcoming offseason and Conference USA slate without two of his top returning Owls. According to ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein and Evan Daniels of Scout, both Sean Obi and Keith Washington will transfer. The news seems surprising since Obi, a 6-foot-9 freshman center, told the Houston Chronicle that Rhoades’ hunger for success had transfused the team.
Obi was one of the conference’s top newcomers — he had been named to the C-USA all-freshmen squad — and his ability to consistently score within the arc would have likely been a cornerstone for Rhoades’ offensive plans: Obi made nearly 60 percent of his twos. He was also ferocious on the defensive glass, grabbing roughly 31 percent of opponents’ misses, a rate which ranked second in Ken Pomeroy’s database. Washington, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, wasn’t terribly offensively efficient, but he still recorded double-digits in several games this past season.
The speed with which high-major programs begin to contact Obi could shatter some windows in his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. There are quite a few teams in dire need of a big with good rebounding instincts and soft hands in the post, and it would not be surprising if Obi’s list of potential programs quickly grows. There hasn’t been an announcement regarding any possible restrictions for Obi or Washington.