It was a very successful weekend on the recruiting trail for the University of Rhode Island and the Oregon Ducks.
Danny Hurley and his staff have been working hard trying to revamp the Rams roster after a tough prior season under the previous staff. With an almost all new team, the Rams have been predicted at, or near, the bottom of the Atlantic 10 this year. That likely won't change. However with this year's recruits, three transfers eligible next season and the recent 2013 signings, Rhode Island is in position to challenge for an NCAA berth as soon as the 2013-14 season.
This weekend the Rams reeled in E.C. Matthews, 6'4 combo-guard from Michigan rated as a Top-100 recruit in the 2013 class by ESPN. Matthews is probably more suited to a scoring role but can also play the point. Then, Ifeanyi Onyekaba, a strong 6'7 Nigerian power forward playing high school ball in Virginia enrolled at the school. Onyekaba was initially in the 2013 class but reclassified to potentially join the Rams for the 2012 season. He'll need to be deemed eligible by the NCAA but at the very least he'll help form an imposing frontline for Rhody for 2013-14. Onyekaba appears to be very strong and a solid rebounder who can finish around the basket. Then Hassan Martin, a 6'6 athletic swing forward from Staten Island signed on. Martin is an athletic player rated #7 in New York State who spurned offers from Kansas State, Iowa State and Providence.
In 2013-14 the Rams will feature interior play from Onyekaba, Jordan Hare, a 6'10 3-star 2012 recruit from Michigan, Gil Biruta, a 6'8, 245 pound transfer from Rutgers, Martin, Jarelle Reischel (6'6, Rice transfer) and incoming 6'8 frosh Mike Aaman. Matthews will join a backcourt with current sophomores PG Mike Powell and CG TJ Buchanan, 6'3 "Biggie" Minnis (Texas Tech transfer) and 6'2 shooter Xavier Munford. That's a solid nucleus to build on.
Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi, a 6'7 forward with one year of eligibility remaining elected to transfer to Oregon this weekend. Kazemi, the first collegiate player from Iran and one of the top rebounders (10.3 rpg) in the nation will file a hardship application with the NCAA in order to be eligible for the 2012-13 season. He chose Oregon over Kentucky, Florida, Ohio State and others.
If Kazemi is eligible this season he'll join recent signee 6'11 Waverly Austin, the top JUCO center last season, 6'10 senior Tony Woods and returnee E.J. Singler in a much improved frontcourt for the Ducks. With the losses of starters Devoe Joseph, Garrett Sim and Olu Ashaolu it was thought this would be a rebuilding year for the Ducks. But with Austin's addition and the possible addition of Kazemi this year, Oregon will be able to compete in a much stronger Pac-12 conference.
Oregon also received commitments this weekend from Tyrell and Tyree Robinson, 6'3 brothers from San Diego who will primarily play football but will also play basketball. The Robinson's are close friends with Aaron Gordon, the 6'8, 5-star forward also considering Oregon. A Gordon signing would elevate Oregon to Pac-12 contenders for the 2013-14 season.