Monday, August 08, 2011

Oregon Lands Tony Woods, Butler Gets Rotnei Clarke

Oregon lands Tony Woods - Woods was originally a Skip Prosser recruit at Wake Forest, and though he never lived up to the hype he was a quality role player (4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game on 60.8% shooting as a sophomore in 2009-10). At the very least he provides size and athleticism for an Oregon team lacking that. The Ducks are young and fairly talented in the backcourt and on the wings. E.J. Singler, a swing forward, is one of the most explosive scorers in the Pac-12, and Garrett Sim is a steady point guard. Point guard Johnathan Loyd was the jewel of Dana Altman's 2010 recruiting class, and shooting guard Jabari Brown is the jewel of his 2011 class. Jeremy Jacob is another quality swing player who will return from a knee surgery that cost him half of last season. But in the frontcourt, the only player over 6'6" who played at least 15 minutes last season was 6'8" Tyrone Nared, who is merely a defensive presence. Woods will really lock down the paint on both sides of the floor.

But it's not all sunshine and lollipops for Oregon. The reason Tony Woods was available was because he was booted out of Wake Forest for beating up his girlfriend. Certainly fans of other Pac-12 teams are already joking about how long it will take him to get arrested again. And Oregon is a school already in an awkward situation with all of the possible misbehavior by the football team, with the NCAA breathing down their neck. Woods will immediately be the most physically talented big on Oregon, but even the best case scenario is that he becomes an average Pac-12 starter. Oregon is going to be better than they were last season, but they still have a long way to go. In my 2011-12 Pac-12 preview I picked Oregon to finish 7th, saying that they could make the NCAA Tournament as early as 2013. Adding Tony Woods gets them closer to the bubble, but I still think they're quite the long shot to get back to the NCAA Tournament any earlier than 2013, when Woods will be in his final year of eligibility. So in the grand scheme of things, I think the Woods signing doesn't provide too much upside long term for the Oregon program.

Butler gets Rotnei Clarke - This is a move that won't affect this coming season, as Clarke will have to redshirt and will play his final year of eligibility for Butler in 2012-13. Clarke was released from Arkansas by Mike Anderson after he replaced John Pelphrey. But even though this is only a one-year band aid to help the team recover from the graduation of Ronald Nored (who is heading into his own senior year), Clarke is a truly outstanding player. He's not well known outside the SEC because he played on mediocre Arkansas teams, but he's an offensive star. This past season he had a 57.8 eFG% (sixth best in the SEC), including a 43.8 3P% while committing only 1.5 turnovers and 1.2 fouls per 40 minutes.

Rotnei Clarke is a player who really won't matter again for eight more months, but he will be an unambiguously huge addition to Butler's next squad. A great get for Brad Stevens.

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