Door's open in lineup for UO's Catron
On College Hoops
His final game in his freshman year didn't last long: 10 minutes, with five fouls against Florida in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
But Joevan Catron made an impact with the Oregon Ducks, even though he was a doubtful performer last summer and then started slowly.
Catron had hip surgery after his senior season at Thornton Township High in Phoenix, Ill., and had to lay off workouts for about three months.
Over the course of the UO season, he not only contributed off the bench with his energy and bulk, but he also got into shape, losing 25 pounds. But the 6-6 kid still tipped the scales at 255.
'He plays with so much passion for the game and fire that you can't keep him off the floor,' coach Ernie Kent said during the Ducks' NCAA run.
And now, as the Ducks look forward, Catron figures prominently in their plans. As does Kent, who was rewarded with a five-year contract Wednesday, worth up to $1.3 million per year and including a $1 million university buyout.
The extension runs through the 2011-12 season and was important for UO because the Ducks can sign five high school seniors or junior college players as of November to replace the five seniors set to play next season. Oregon has one verbal commitment, from 6-7 Drew Wiley of McKenzie High.
In addition, a scholarship became immediately available with Chamberlain Oguchi's option last week to transfer; a signing period opened April 11, and the Ducks may or may not sign another player right away.
'Duke' looks to sharpen shot
Kent likes the makeup for next season, anyway. Starters Tajuan Porter, Bryce Taylor, Maarty Leunen and Malik Hairston will be back, leaving a spot for someone -presumably Catron, Churchill Odia, Kamyron Brown or Frantz Dorsainvil.
Who becomes the fifth starter will depend on what style Kent and his assistants determine the Ducks can and will play. No question, Catron can be a significant player in the Pac-10. He's a little bit Zach Randolph with his post moves and a little bit Charles Barkley with his tenacious rebounding.
And, 'he's an undersized big man who is pretty skilled out on the perimeter to handle the ball,' Kent says.
But Catron, nicknamed 'Duke,' needs to develop a jump shot. An indelible memory of Catron: He would get the ball about 6 feet from the basket, take a dribble and jump stop to get closer to the hoop -and draw an offensive foul.
'He has to add the jump shot, which will open up other stuff,' says assistant coach Kenny Payne, who recruited Catron. 'He's good off the dribble, he has good post moves, and he can pound it.'
Catron earned a reputation as a tireless worker during his prep and AAU days. He averaged 19.8 points and 12.7 rebounds during his senior year at Thornton Township. He also played tight end in football.
He played well in the UO preseason, then struggled during the early Pac-10 schedule. He came on to be a big contributor during the Ducks' stretch run.
'I just want to get into shape,' Catron says, adding that he plans to shoot plenty of jumpers in the offseason.
A transfer, two preps and a redshirt are set to join the Ducks next season.
The 6-8 Dorsainvil, who transfers from Vincennes University in Indiana and who had to sit out last season with an immigration issue, will bring toughness to the front line. He was born in Haiti and grew up in Montreal.
Drew Viney, a 6-7 swingman from Villa Park (Calif.) High, is 'one of the most skilled perimeter players in the West,' Kent says. Brown, a 6-2 guard from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., has Brooks-like quickness and could contribute next season. LeKendric Longmire, a 6-5 redshirt freshman from Pascagoula, Miss., also enters the mix.
• Phil Nelson, a 6-7 forward from McNary High who averaged 4.7 points as a freshman in 31 games for Washington last season, is expected to transfer to Portland State.