Have we reached peak, Oregon? It’s become all too fashionable to beat up on the Beaver State these days, what with their delicious coffee, and their penchant for recycling. Oregon might as well be Canada – it pretty much was until 1846. Now, all the cool kids are looking for a new home. That includes virtually the entire Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team that went 24-10 SU, and 18-12-3 against last year’s NCAAB lines.
We already knew the Ducks were going to experience some turnover this season. The 2013-14 roster featured six seniors, led by forward Mike Moser (21.3 PER) and guard Jason Calliste (21.4 PER). But head coach Dana Altman did a fantastic job of making Eugene a leading destination for transfer players. Moser, for example, started his college hoops career at UCLA before returning to his home state and playing out his last year of eligibility as a graduate student.
Unfortunately for Altman, the river has started flowing in the other direction. Two Ducks have already decided to transfer out of the program: sophomore guard A.J. Lapray (now with Pepperdine), and junior forward Ben Carter, who was expected to join UNLV. Now as many as three other Oregonians are expected to join the exodus: junior guard Damyean Dotson, junior point guard Dominic Artis, and most controversially, sophomore forward Brandon Austin. That would leave Oregon with just four players in good standing.
Austin, a four-star recruit out of Philadelphia, was one of the better prospects in the 2013 recruiting class, checking in at No. 56 on the ESPN 60. The Providence Friars snapped Austin up, ahead of UConn and Texas, hoping the 6-foot-6 wing would help with ball distribution at the perimeter. But Austin never played a game for the Friars. He was suspended in November for undisclosed reasons, and transferred after the fall semester.
Here comes the disclosure: According to a Wall Street Journal report from March, Austin was one of two Friars being investigated by police over claims of sexual assault lodged by a student at Providence. The alleged incident happened on Nov. 3, three days before Austin was suspended. On Monday, the Ducks announced that Austin, who would have been eligible to play in December, was not participating in team activities. He might have to find a new home, if anyone will take him.
Really Big Shoe
Meanwhile, Artis and Damyean Dotson are also non-participants, and ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported on Monday that Artis (9.7 PER) was seeking a transfer. It was expected that Artis would regain the starting point guard job this year after a poor 2013-14 campaign that started with a nine-game suspension – he and Carter were caught selling shoes on eBay, shoes that had been given to them by the school.
Bigger things were also expected from Dotson (13.9 PER) last year; as freshmen, he and Artis were Oregon’s starting backcourt combo in 2012-13. While Dotson did play some strong defense as a sophomore, his offense didn’t improve, and his minutes dipped from 27.9 per game to 23.8. Dotson was also suspended one game for using a fake ID at a bar on campus.
This outflow of players leaves Coach Altman with just two returning regulars. Good thing those two are senior guard Joseph Young (25.6 PER), the best player on the team, and junior forward Elgin Cook (19.6 PER). They’ll be joined by a recruiting class that includes the No. 41-ranked prospect on this year’s ESPN 60, JaQuan Lyle. Oregon is also trying to land center Chase Jeter, who checks in at No. 35. At least there should be plenty of minutes to go around in Eugene.