Omar Oraby Cleared For USC; Is Arsalan Kazemi Next?Posted by AMurawa on November 8th, 2012
USC got a nice surprise this afternoon when 7’2” center Omar Oraby was cleared for immediate eligibility. Oraby announced his decision to transfer to the Trojans back in September after joining a rapid exodus from Rice, but applied for a hardship waiver which was granted today. Oraby will be a junior and is expected to start immediately for USC after averaging just six points and three rebounds for the Owls last season in limited minutes. While he remains a mystery to most, he’s been mentioned by some, including SC head coach Kevin O’Neill, as a potential future NBA Draft pick. And given that he’ll be joining a front line that already includes junior center DeWayne Dedmon, whom O’Neill also said last year had NBA lottery potential, the Trojans are loaded up front. Their chances of registering significant improvement over last season just took a big bump.
While this is undeniably good news for the Trojans, it is also excellent news for Oregon. You see, Oraby’s more accomplished teammate last year at Rice, Arsalan Kazemi, was also among the numerous players who bailed on Rice this past offseason, with Eugene his eventual destination. Kazemi has been among the best rebounders in the nation the past two years at Rice (he’ll be a senior when he is eventually eligible, this year or next), and given that he left Rice under the exact same circumstances as Oraby, you’ve got to assume that he’ll be cleared for action at Oregon as well (his hardship waiver is still pending). While no official reason for the transfers was ever announced, both Kazemi, who is a native Iranian, and Oraby, a native of Egypt, were recruited to the Houston school by assistant coach Marco Morcos, whose contract was not renewed this offseason by Rice head coach Ben Braun.
If and when Kazemi gets cleared, the Ducks’ NCAA Tournament chances get an immediate boost. Not only is the 6’7” Kazemi a stellar rebounder, but he’s also quite skilled on the offensive end and, paired with the veteran front line that already includes seniors E.J. Singler and Tony Woods, Dana Altman’s club would be imposing indeed. While this NCAA decision is a bit of a head-scratcher, it is good news indeed for a pair of Pac-12 teams.