by Rob Moseley
The Oregon men’s basketball team will enjoy a midseason infusion of talent next winter, when swingman Brandon Austin is eligible to play.
Austin, a 6-foot-6 wing from Philadelphia, enrolled at the university this week and will be eligible as a redshirt freshman at the conclusion of the fall quarter late in 2014. Austin will spend the time in between as a redshirt, after leaving Providence in December.
“It’ll be a winter quarter of adjustment for him,” UO coach Dana Altman said Thursday. “But I know he’s looking forward to it, and we’re looking forward to working with him.”
Austin is the latest transfer for Altman’s Ducks, who entered Thursday night’s home showdown against Cal at 13-1 and ranked No. 17 in the country. He averaged 17 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in leading Imhotep Carter to a Pennsylvania state championship last year, then enrolled at Providence; Austin opted to leave the program after being suspended for what was termed "not upholding … responsibilities as (a) student-athlete."
Altman said he consulted with Providence coaches before accepting Austin as a transfer, and they alleviated any character concerns.
“That’s always something that we consider very strongly,” Altman said. “But in talking with their coaching staff, we felt like this was something that was not of a serious nature and we’d be able to move on from there.”
The lanky Austin will spend the coming months building up his body with UO strength and conditioning coach Bryce Daub, and practicing with this new coaches and teammates.
“He can put the ball on the floor, play a variety of positions,” Altman said. “He gives us some flexibility. There’s a lot of different places I think we can use him, and that’s where his versatility comes in.”
With Oregon on track to lose five seniors from the current squad, the Ducks also have letters of intent from five players for next season. They are point guard Casey Benson, forwards Jordan Bell, Dwayne Benjamin and Ray Kasongo and center Michael Chandler.