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Flanked by his grandparents and high school coach, Ahmaad Rorie sat in front of friends and classmates inside the Lincoln High gymnasium. He reached underneath the table and dug into his backpack pulling out a bright yellow Oregon hat, which capped his three-week recruiting whirlwind.
“Next year I’ll be playing at the University of Oregon,” he said.
The four-star prospect originally signed with California, but was granted his release when Golden Bears coach Mike Montgomery retired and assistant Travis DeCuire was not retained on staff.
Rorie, a 6-0 point guard, had offers from Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Missouri, Memphis and Wichita State.
Rainier Beach High standout David Crisp, who is committed to Washington, and Washington State star guard DaVonte Lacy attended today’s ceremony.
Rorie joins an Oregon team that’s dealt with an off-court scandal in recent weeks. Three players involved in a sexual-assault investigation were dismissed from the team. The Ducks lost 11 players from last season via graduation, transfer or dismissal.
With the addition of Rorie, Oregon now has 11 players on the 2014-15 roster, which includes seven newcomers. There’s only three scholarship players (Joseph Young, Elgin Cook and Jalil Abdul-Bassit) on the team who played last season.
Here’s a transcript from an interview with Rorie.
(What was it about Oregon that sold you?) “The main thing that sold me was the coaches. Every coach on the staff I liked and I feel like I can have a really good relationship with going forward. Then I wanted to stay close to home, but I didn’t want to be in Washington. So I was like, maybe Oregon. Then I liked all the gear. I liked all the facilities. I like how they make the tournament every year and I feel like I can help them win a national title. That was the main thing that sold me about Oregon.”
(How much did you talk with David Crisp?) “We talked a lot, but he told me to do the best thing for me. Of course he tried to get me to come to the UDub, but he just wanted me to do the best thing for me. DaVonte too. He wanted me to come to Wazzu bad.”
(So you had people pulling at you.) “I told both of them that I was going to Oregon so it wasn’t really a surprise to them. They both knew. They both tried to get me to go to their schools.”
(When did you know?) “I didn’t really know until yesterday really. I knew that if I were to go down there I would like everything about it just because Travis told me they had the facilities, the gear and everything and how the coaches are cool. But I didn’t know until yesterday. Pretty much after the visit.”
(Did you talk to Dana Altman about the troubles at Oregon?) “He pretty much explained to me that none of that is going to happen anymore. That was mainly on the players that he didn’t know about. It was stuff that was taking place. He explained to me the whole shoe thing when they sold the team. They pretty much got some custom-made pair of shoes and they sold them to some people outside of school. And then those people sold them. So that’s how it got out. And then he told me about the other situation too and he said nothing like that is going to be happening. I wanted to make sure.”
(Has the past three weeks been a scramble since you received your release fron California?) “A little bit. The main thing I said to my mom was that I want to take at least three more visits so we made sure to do that. Because at first we were looking at UDub, but I was like we need to visit other places so we have something to compare it to. We just can’t go to the UDub and be like this is where I want to go.”
(Which schools did you visit and who gave you offers?) “Officials were Cal, UDub, Wazzu and Oregon. All four of them offered. Wichita State offered me. Missouri offered me. Memphis offered me. Arizona State offered me. I think that’s about it. There were other schools that was kind of talking to me.”
(Having gone through the recruiting process last year did it help this time?) “Yeah it helped me to like make sure I see everything and that it’s just bigger than basketball. It’s about I want to be somewhere for a long period of time. I’m not just going to be playing basketball. There’s going to be academics, the area and everything. A lot of stuff tied into it. Then just staying loyal made me think.”
(Did you have a top three and who came second?) “I didn’t really have a second. I would say UDub if I was to go off of my visits. But I liked Missouri. I was going to take a visit down there. I like their point guard situation. They don’t really have a point guard on the roster so it would have been immediate minutes. And then it’s the SEC. But I didn’t take a visit.”
(When you visited Oregon was it to reaffirm what you already suspected about the program or did you go in with eyes wide open?) “I was going in eyes wide open. I wasn’t going there thinking that I knew everything about it. I wanted them to show me everything and get to know them. Get to know all the staff. See all the facilities. Meet the basketball team. I wasn’t going to do down there and assume stuff.”
(Why does Oregon fit you?) “Their style of play. They play real uptempo. They led the Pac-12 in scoring. I push it. I can score. Plus, Dana Altman is going to get on me and I’m ready for that. I need a coach that’s going to push me to get to the next level.”
(How much relief is there to get this done?) “There’s a lot of relief, but I usually try to stay cool anyway so I wasn’t really giving into the pressure or let it bother me. … I’m happy that I know where I’m going again. I really don’t feel any different though. I’m happy that everybody came out because I’m pretty close to the majority of the people here. I’m happy for the school and thankful to them for putting it on for me. I wish my mom could have been here. She was real sad she couldn’t come, but I told her it would be alright.”
(Where’s your mom?) “She’s in the Bay Area.”
(What’s the next step for you?) “I have state for track next week. Then I graduate. Then I leave to Oregon on June 20 for summer school. I’m there for about three weeks and come back for the Fourth of July. Then I go back to Oregon, come back home again and we start school Sept. 29.”
(It’s way too early to ask you, but I’ll do it anyway. What are your expectations for next season?) “My expectations for myself is to start. Whatever I have to do to get that job done I’m doing it. That’s always been my expectation anywhere I played was to start. That’s why I took my time and looked around. I asked what point guards do they have? What guards do they have? How do I fit into their system? I really looked into everything?”
(Why did you leave California?) “The main reason was the coaching change. I thought if there’s a new coach, I might as well look around and talk to coaches that I knew before. I was going to Cal to get an education and I was going to play for Montgomery and his staff. Then I was mad that they didn’t leave Travis on staff. Him not getting the head coaching thing was different. But him not even being on the staff, that was tough.”