Less than a month ago, I wrote this piece declaring that Oregon basketball had hit rock bottom. Since Ernie Kent had been fired, four players had transferred to other programs. A projected starter flunked out. Another took his basketball to Israel. We we under threat of NCAA investigation. We had a woefully undermanned roster of 8 scholarship players.
What a difference a month makes.
As we start to emerge from our darkest hour in 20 years, the future suddenly looks very bright. What a month ago looked to be a 4-5 year rebuilding job all of a sudden looks like we could be extremely competitive again possibly as early as next season. Altman hasn't even coached a game yet, and he's already made all the right moves.
Shortly after he came, Matt Humphrey, Drew Wiley, Josh Crittle, and Jamil Wilson bolted what looked to be a sinking ship for seemingly brighter pastures. Knowing his roster was being depleted and he had just a couple of weeks to cobble together a recruiting class, he managed to sign not one but two players with almost no time. One of those players, Tyrone Nared, is a JUCO transfer from Rhode Island whom Altman had originally recruited to Creighton. The 6-6" 220lb. forward is the tough defensive minded forward that we haven't had around here since Robert Johnson. He also got a bit of a coup is getting a commitment from Jonathan Loyd, a 3* point guard from Las Vegas who also had offers from the likes of Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, and UNLV. It wasn't the greatest recruiting class in the world, but for having scarcely over two weeks to cobble something together, it was more than we had the right to ask for. It ensured that we had some quality players coming in this year,w hen that was very much in doubt at the time of Altman's hiring.
More stuff happened, largely out of Altman's control. Malcolm Armstead asked for a transfer, and, fortunately, Altman was able to talk him out of it. But then Dunigan's eligibility came into question, and he bolted for Israel. LeKendric Longmire flunked out. Oregon had to cancel its offseason trip to Italy. There were questions whether Altman would have enough players to even field a team without resorting to suiting up a bench full of walk-ons. Once again, Atlman pulled a rabbit out of his hat. He pulled Jay-R Strowbridge in from Jacksonville State under the "Jeremiah Masoli" rule, as Strowbridge already had his degree. Strowbridge is a senior point guard, and, while coming from Jacksonville State its unknown how he will stack up in a major conference, he reportedly has a deadly three point shot, and its a zero risk move. Strowbridge is a senior. If he's a player, great. But, if he turns out not to be so good, you've only invested a year of scholarship into him, and a scholarship that you weren't using otherwise to boot. Facing a lack of big men, Altman, leaving no stone unturned, went to Germany and pulled in Martin Seiferth, a 6'10" freshman forward from Germany. We don't know a lot about Seiferth, but he has played four years of club ball in Germany, and 6'10" guys don't grow on trees. Getting another scholarship player in this class also helps spread the classes, the lack of which was a large part of Ernie Kent's downfall.
While his band-aid on this year's roster was impressive enough, its what Altman has managed to do in his short time recruiting for the future that has been even more impressive. Atlman has quietly put together the 14th rated recruiting class in the country for next season, with a scholarship still to dole out. The biggest coup was snatching Jabari Brown, a 5* guard (and #22 in the country overall) with offers from the likes of Kansas, Arizona, Arizona State, Maryland, Washington, and Georgia Tech. Altman has also pulled in commitments from three 3* recruits in point guard Brett Kingma (other offers Washington, Gonzaga, BYU), combo guard Bruce Barron (other offers Cincinnati, Oklahoma State, and DePaul), and center Austin Kuemper.
We're still going to be plenty terrible this season, but the future looks extremely bright. What Dana Altman has done here without even coaching a game is remarkable. We have the arena, and the talent is coming soon, and Altman has me drinking the Kool-Aid. Oregon basketball, so hopeless a mere month ago, is on its way back.