EUGENE — Oregon coach Dana Altman said results of the recent FBI investigation into college basketball were “disappointing,” but he put his support behind Sean Miller and Andy Enfield during his first public statements since the federal probe became public.
Two of the four assistant coaches arrested for fraud after being accused of taking bribes to pressure players into picking certain agents came from the Pac-12 Conference. Oregon has had recruiting battles in recent years with the coaches, Arizona’s Emmanuel Richardson and USC’s Tony Bland.
“I’ve got great respect recruiting against those teams; I didn’t ever feel like it was anything,” Altman said before practice on Friday. “They have got great programs. Sitting at USC you are in L.A. and sitting in Arizona, you have got the tradition. As far as I know, they run great programs.”
The investigation is likely to dominate Pac-12 media day next week when Miller and Enfield arrive Thursday in San Francisco along with reporters who cover the conference. The Wildcats and Trojans may be the two favorites in the preseason media poll.
“Arizona has got great fans and great tradition, and a very good basketball coach,” Altman said. “USC has really come along, and Andy is a good guy. They are both in our conference and I don’t want to talk about other programs, but I have a lot of respect for both coaches and their coaching staff. I hope it is all settled in their favor when all the details come out.”
A total of 10 people were arrested following the three-year FBI probe that was announced on Sept. 26. In addition to the four coaches, two Adidas employees were arrested along with a couple agents and advisers.
“From the outside, it is something that is a little disappointing for all of us,” Altman said. “Without having a lot of knowledge of the particulars, it looks like it is broken down into two things, coaches and payments, which is not good for our game.”
NEW NO. 1: Oregon has a 6-foot-9 forward wearing No. 1 once again this year.
Freshman forward Kenny Wooten is not shying away from comparisons to Jordan Bell by taking the same number that the second-round pick of the Golden State Warriors wore for the previous three seasons. Wooten is listed at 220 pounds, five fewer than Bell last season.
“A lot of comparisons,” Oregon sophomore Keith Smith said of Wooten and Bell. “They have the same locker and same number. Same freak athletes. I think Kenny is going to come into his own, but they are very similar.”
Some other newcomers took the numbers of players who played on last year’s Final Four team. Elijah Brown, a graduate transfer from New Mexico, is wearing the No. 5 that Tyler Dorsey wore, while Abu Kigab is wearing the No. 24 that fellow Canadian Dillon Brooks left behind.
Freshman Troy Brown Jr. is wearing No. 0, Victor Bailey will don No. 10, and graduate transfer MiKyle McIntosh from Illinois State took No. 22.
RETURNING WALK-ON: Evan Gross will return to the Ducks for a second season as a walk-on guard. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound guard from Sacramento is a redshirt senior.
Gross joined the Ducks in the middle of last season and played a total of four minutes in two games. He made his only shot, a 3-pointer, in a 101-73 win over Colorado and grabbed a rebound in a 79-61 win over Utah.
Oregon added 6-1 freshman Will Johnson as another walk-on to give it 13 players. Altman said he would like to add another walk-on or two.