In another cruel twist of fate for Texas basketball fans, UT lost on on Louisiana Tech transfer Olu Ashaolu when he decided on Oregon late this morning. He originally entered the NBA draft to gauge his stock, and decided to remove his name from the draft when he didn't get first-round feedback (yes, BONizens, that is legal). After pulling out, Ashaolu made it publicly known that he would transfer, likely in the hopes that a more notable basketball school would be able to showcase his talents for the NBA for a year.
Olu will be available to play immediately at Oregon because he has already completed his undergraduate degree and graduate transfers are not required to sit out for a year after switching schools.
More after the jump:
This is absolutely brutal for UT fans for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that UT is razor thin in the interior next year. We have experience (Clint Chapman, Lexi Wangmene) and talent (Kevin Thomas, Jonathan Holmes), but we don't have a single player with both. Aside from that, Thomas is a perimeter player in the making, Holmes is a stretch four who doesn't have much experience playing against big time competition, Wangmene catches the basketball about as frequently as Russell Westbrook makes a high IQ basketball play, and Clint Chapman played the same amount of minutes for UT as I did last season.
The second reason is that Texas was almost universally thought to be the leader for Ashaolu's hard-working, high-flying, SportsCenter Top 10 services that would have gone together perfectly with Myck Kabongo's skillset.
Speaking of whom, another reason UT fans thought Olu was living in a burnt orange house was a few less-than-prescient tweets by Myck about his fellow Canadian committing to Texas. While the linked tweet references only "reloading," another tweet directly referencing Olu was deleted (presumably at the "suggestion" of UT coaches). A week ago, Kabongo was billed as a modern day Twitter Nostradamus after correctly predicting that Sterling Gibbs was "hooked." After missing on a DeAndre Daniels guess (so far) and striking out with Ashaolu, Harold Camping may be a more adequate comparison.
After the positive momentum the Gibbs commitment created, Texas is again back in a funk after a brutal end to the season and the early departure of Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton, and Cory Joseph.
So what now? Well, Texas basically has two bullets left in their holster to give the program a possible rosy outlook for 2011.
DeAndre Daniels is still "deciding" between Texas and KU after scheduling an announcement both last Wednesday and the following Thursday morning. We were supposed to be the leader then and I haven't heard anything that says differently. Ashaolu to Oregon likely does hurt our chances with Daniels a little bit, or at least dampens his enthusiasm to come here, because it makes it more likely he would be relegated to the four-spot at times—though he strictly wants to play SF.
The wild card in all of this is maligned 6'11" former Wake Forest center Tony Woods, a 5 star recruit out of high school. Woods has already taken a year off from basketball after a troubling experience with his girlfriend ended his tenure at Wake, so he should be able to play right away. He's big, long, and athletic, something Texas has absolutely none of on its upcoming roster. The two top teams for Woods are supposedly Texas and Kentucky (yippee), so I don't blame you if you don't like our chances. Nor do I blame you if you'd rather not recruit him at all.
On the bright side, Woods would be an infinitely bigger piece for the Horns than he would for Cal, as the Cats return star forward Terrence Jones and reserve Eloy Vargas and add 5 star recruits Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer to their interior (along with 5 star Mike Gilchrist, who can also play in the post). Jones and Davis are both sure-fire lottery picks next year (Davis will likely be the top pick in the draft), so there is essentially a 0% of Woods starting for UK while he should at the very least play heavy minutes for UT.
Regarding Ashaolu again, all I can say is "Oh well, back to the drawing board" and hope Clint Chapman has turned into Chris Mihm after a year's hard work of strength, conditioning, and fundamentals training...Here's a video of what could have been. Just imagine Olu is wearing one of the jersey's he's playing against.