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Arsalan Kazemi receives release to transfer from Rice

By Ryan Gupta     9/16/12 7:00pm

Rice Senior Arsalan Kazemi requested a release from the team and received it on Monday. The 6-foot-7 forward had been the Owl's most valuable player, averaging 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in 2011-2012, making him one of only 21 NCAA division I players to average a double-double last season.

His departure is a resounding blow for a team that seemed to be on the up and coming after attaining a playoff berth last season. However, since the conclusion of last year's campaign, a massive exodus has taken place with six players leaving Ben Braun's squad. The team had lost Jarelle Reischel, Dylan Ennis, David Chadwick and Ahmad Ibrahim. Last week Omar Oraby, a friend and roommate of Kazemi, received a release to leave for USC, and today the team's star player has also departed.

Head Coach Ben Braun acknowledged that there was a problem with the large number of departures and stated that he and Athletic Director Rick Greenspan are on a C-USA committee analyzing the current state of college basketball, including why so many players are transferring.

Braun believes that a number of the transfers occurred because of a lack of play time or a desire for an expanded role on the team.

"We're in an instant gratification type society. There's a feeling sometimes that if you don't contribute immediately, you're failing." Braun also added that some players talked about a desire for more visibility and getting noticed by professional scouts more often.

The transfer of Kazemi and Oraby occur on the heels of Marco Morcos's departure from the team. Morcos, an ex-assistant coach, departed at the end of last year. During his time at Rice, Morcos, an Egyptian native, played a major role in international recruiting - particularly in bringing Kazemi and Oraby to the team. However, Braun declined to comment on any potential role of Morcos in the departure of the players.

While Braun stated that Kazemi had attended all pre-season conditioning sessions and individual workouts, the Owl's star forward is now looking to play at Kentucky, Texas, Oregon, Ohio State, Florida or Cincinnati, as reported by Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports. According to NCAA rules, he will have to sit a year before playing out his final year of eligibility. Professional European leagues also remain a viable option for Kazemi, but there has been no indication yet that he intends to go overseas to play.

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