Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Oregon's Dana Altman is quickly becoming
the Pat Riley of the collegiate level due to recent success in the transfer
Riley turned the Miami Heat into a perennial powerhouse overnight a few summers
ago when he convinced Chris Bosh and LeBron James to join Dwyane Wade in South
The Ducks aren't winning national titles just yet, but they are close to
becoming a regular fixture in the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, Oregon ended a four-year drought without a trip to the Big Dance
with the help of Arsalan Kazemi, who will begin his professional career with
the Philadelphia 76ers if all goes to plan. Kazemi spent his first three
seasons being the key player on a Rice squad that consistently finished near
the bottom of the Conference USA. He then became the anchor inside for Altman's
team as it won the Pac-12 Conference Tournament and made an appearance in the
The season before Kazemi's one-and-done campaign in Eugene, Oregon added then-
junior center Tony Woods from Wake Forest along with Devoe Joseph, who became
the top scorer for the Ducks after becoming eligible midseason following his
departure from Minnesota in the midst of his junior year.
Although it lost its top three interior players in Woods, Kazemi and Carlos
Emory, Oregon is in good position to make back-to-back trips to the NCAA
Tournament for the first time since it had Aaron Brooks and Malik Hairston
manning the backcourt.
The Ducks have never made three straight trips to the Big Dance. They are in
position to keep chasing that feat once again after using the transfer market
to its benefit as Mike Moser and Joseph Young of UNLV and Houston,
respectively, decided to finish their college careers under Altman's watch.
This will be the third school for Moser, who began his journey as a seldom-used
reserve at UCLA. Much like Jerrelle Benimon of Towson, Moser's decision to
transfer helped him transform his role from zero to hero.
The 6-foot-8 forward posted a double-double average of 14 points and 10.5
rebounds per game as a redshirt sophomore for the Runnin' Rebels, which left
many Bruins' enthusiasts wondering why Ben Howland let him slip through the
However, Moser's reign as the big man of campus at UNLV was short-lived as he
failed to mesh with Anthony Bennett, which spoiled coach Dave Rice's hope of
having the best forward combination at the school since Larry Johnson and
Moser registered only 7.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per outing and missed
significant time with a hip injury. Bennett, who recently became the first
Canadian player selected first overall in the NBA Draft, had already become the
go-to guy in the offense by the time Moser was fully recovered.
Moser put himself on the NBA radar with his stellar sophomore campaign only to
be forgotten when he fell off this past season. He will be able to play right
away and now has a rare second chance of salvaging his career. He might have
more help than expected if Young is intermediately instated by the NCAA, which
is a possibility considering the circumstances.
Young was a flat-out scoring machine for Houston last season with a team-best
18 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the floor, including 42
percent on 3-point attempts.
Instead of being one of the cornerstones for the Cougars in their big move to
the newly formed American Athletic Conference, Young opted to leave the program
after his father, Michael, refused to be reassigned from director of basketball
operations to a lesser celebrated role within the athletic department.
A similar scenario occurred last season when Trey Zeigler left Central Michigan
as a reaction to the firing of his head coach and father Ernie Zeigler. The
younger Zeigler was allowed to play for Pittsburgh last season without sitting
out after being approved for an undergraduate hardship waiver.
The NCAA's decision will have a huge impact on Oregon's success in 2013-14 as
Young would be the only wing player on the roster with any experience other
than sophomore Damyean Dotson.
Young will have two years of eligibility remaining either way, but an extra
year of developing a chemistry with Dotson and point guard Dominic Artis could
pay off huge dividends down the road.
Oregon not only won the conference tournament last season, it also tied UCLA
for first place in the regular season. The Pac-12 will not be an easy league to
win next season as Arizona is bringing in another elite recruiting class and
Arizona State's Jahii Carson is one of the top contenders for the Bob Cousy
But six of the top seven finishers in the conference lost a player to the NBA
Draft and although Washington didn't hear its name called on draft night, it
lost impact center Aziz N'Diaye.
USC has taken notice of Altman's blueprint and will have a veteran bolstered
backcourt in 2014-15 with Moser's former UNLV teammate Katin Reinhardt, Pe'Shon
Howard (Maryland) and Darion Clark (Charlotte). The Trojans will have to wait
for their new crop of talent to have an impact on the hardwood, but the
strategy of targeting proven college players over standout high school
prospects could become common practice among top-tier programs.
The "one-and-done" rule that gives the top high school seniors the ultimatum of
attending college, often for a single season, or playing in any professional
league not named the NBA is having an effect at the top of the totem pole. The
power conference's coaches have to decide whether they would prefer an
inexperienced talent for just one year or a prospect who is more likely to
have an extended stay in the NCAA.
Oregon is using the transfer market to its advantage better than any other
program, and due to the current climate, it makes perfect sense. Altman is
targeting players with experience, talent and a hunger to prove themselves
after bitter departures from their prior schools. The transfers he has brought
in have demonstrated unselfishness and total effort during their time on the
The success of the team is the main priority for the mature players who Altman
has welcomed to his program. Maturity can often be a critical flaw with the
blue chip freshmen who were convinced to attend a certain school with promises
Altman's focus on pitching to players looking for a fresh start is not as
highly publicized, but it is yielding positive results via a much safer
and more logical route.
The Sports Network