Full-Court Press: Oregon continues to land top-notch transfers
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
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 market.
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 Beach.
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 Sweet 16.
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 cracks.
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 Stacey Augmon.
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 Award.
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 court.
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 of stardom.
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.
07/03 10:07:53 ET