One of the highlights, on paper at least, of the Illinois nonconference schedule is the Dec. 13 game against Oregon at the United Center in Chicago. I say on paper because the Ducks had the look of an attractive opponent when the Portland-Chicago series was announced last year. But Dana Altman’s program is a mess right now. Three players — Dominic Artis, Brandon Austin and Damyean Dotson — were all dismissed from the program following a rape case to which all three were tied. All were prominent players in the rotation. The Ducks have dealt with that, and last week incoming freshman forward Ray Kasongo was denied admission into the university, and five-star guard JaQuan Lyle, a former Illini target, has not yet been granted admission. As it stands, Oregon has eight scholarship positions available, and it looks as though 2014-15 could be a long season.
The big news of the week in sports centered around Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice and the extremely light two-game suspension he was handed by the NFL for an incident in which he’s alleged to have punched his then-fiancee, knocking her out cold and dragging her through a hotel. Alabama-Birmingham top scorer Chad Frazier was charged in June with third-degree domestic assault for allegedly striking a female several times with a closed fist. Initially, UAB coach Jerod Haase said they’d handle the situation appropriately, but it wasn’t until last week that Frazier, who averaged 17.7 points and 4.2 assists, was dismissed. The fallout and national conversation about the Rice situation likely forced UAB’s hand in the matter.
Remember Isaiah Austin, the big man from Baylor who found out days before the draft that his career was over because of a rare genetic heart condition revealed during an NBA physical? Well, he had one of the coolest moments of the year when NBA commissioner Adam Silver made him an honorary draft pick last month. Now Silver is offering Austin, who also has a prosthetic eye, a job with
the league once he finishes his degree. Silver has made all the right moves since taking over for David Stern earlier this year. And for a kid like Austin, who has dealt with so much during his young life, the opportunity to be a part of the league after receiving such devastating news takes a bit of the sting out of that blow.