Ducks grant Bigby-Williams’ release request

Oregon may have another early exit from its Final Four team.

Kavell Bigby-Williams has received his release from the Ducks and will consider transferring to play his senior season at another school, although he still has the option to return to Oregon.

“One of the core elements of our program is that we encourage players to do what they feel is in their best interest, and if Kavell feels he needs to explore other opportunities, we would certainly support that,” Oregon spokesman Greg Walker wrote in a statement released Thursday. “Coach Altman is out of the office recruiting this week, but he and Kavell will be meeting on Monday, and we will move forward from there.”

The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Bigby-Williams averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season in his first year with the Ducks. He shot 45.5 percent from the field and ranked third on the team with 28 blocks but played just 9.8 minutes per game.

Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell all declared for the NBA Draft and hired agents following Oregon’s 77-76 loss to North Carolina in the national semifinals. Casey Benson is leaving to play his senior season as a graduate transfer at another school.

Bigby-Williams arrived at Oregon after being named national junior college player of the year, having averaged 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 blocks per game at Gillette (Wyo.) College.

He started a game against Western Oregon and played more than 20 minutes in three of the first nine games of the season but never reached that benchmark again. Bigby-Williams had season highs of 11 points and 11 rebounds in a 128-59 win over Savannah State on Dec. 3.

Bigby-Williams had his playing time drop once Pac-12 play started, and he did not play in losses at Colorado and UCLA.

After playing a total of nine minutes in Oregon’s first two games of the Pac-12 Tournament, his role expanded after Chris Boucher suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Bigby-Williams had three points, six rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes during a loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, and he averaged 14 minutes, 4.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in Oregon’s first two NCAA Tournament wins, over Iona and Rhode Island. As the tournament wore on, though, his production dwindled along with his minutes — 8.7 per game in the final three.

During an interview at the Pac-12 Tournament, Bigby-Williams said he hoped next season “will be my year.”

If Bigby-Williams elects to transfer, Oregon would bring back only Payton Pritchard, Roman Sorkin and Keith Smith among players who logged minutes last season, along with redshirts M.J. Cage and Paul White.

The Ducks have signed three players for next season and would have five scholarships available if Bigby-Williams chooses to leave the program.

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