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Oregon adds another to sultans of swat

EUGENE — Oregon's men's basketball team officially added a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking forward from a Wyoming junior college for the second year in a row Wednesday.

Kavell Bigby-Williams, who verbally committed to Oregon after visiting last weekend, signed his letter of intent with the Ducks on Wednesday, the first day of the spring signing period.

Bigby-Williams was named the national junior college player of the year by the NCJCAA Division I men’s basketball committee Wednesday after averaging 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 blocked shots as a sophomore for Gillette College. He shot 59.2 percent from the field and had five triple-doubles.

“We’re certainly looking forward to what Kavell will be able to add to our team,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said in a statement. “He is a very skilled, very dynamic big man, and I think our fans will be really excited to watch what he can do.”

Bigby-Williams will join senior Chris Boucher, who was the national junior college player of the year for Northwest College in Wyoming last season, and Jordan Bell on the front line. Bigby-Williams had 211 blocks last season; Boucher set the Oregon school record with 110 and Bell is Oregon’s career leader in blocked shots with 147 in two seasons.

Bigby-Williams is a native of London who has played for Great Britain’s under-20 and under-18 national teams. He is ranked as the No. 3 junior college prospect by 247Sports.com, which lists him as a four-star recruit.

Bigby-Williams is the fourth recruit Oregon has signed for next season but the first junior-college transfer in the class. The Ducks signed guard Payton Pritchard and forwards Keith Smith and M.J. Cage out of high school in the fall.

Bigby-Williams gives Oregon 12 scholarship players for next season, leaving one more available during the signing period that runs through May 18. Oregon could have additional spots open if Dylan Ennis doesn’t get a sixth year of eligibility or players elect to transfer or leave early for the NBA draft.

Back to work

Altman told his team to take two weeks away from basketball after it lost to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight.

“That hasn’t gone over very well,” he said last week. “They want to get going. No weight lifting or shooting for two weeks, just rest and get away from it.”

Guard Casey Benson admitted that he did his best to follow Altman’s directions.

“Just getting some shots, nothing hard on my legs or anything like that,” he said.

The Ducks resumed team activities Monday with a seven-week weight-lifting program.

“Our strength development, in season you try to maintain, so April and May is a good time to build strength,” Altman said. “We try to do that with our younger players and skill development. This is a great time to work on your weaknesses. You want to play to your strengths, but everyone has weaknesses to improve upon. This is a very important time.”

Benson has a list of areas where he wants to improve before next season.

“Just getting better in every facet of the game,” he said. “Mid-range stuff and continuing to work on offense and getting quicker and stronger. Get better defensively, too.”

Altman was encouraged to see his players ready to start working toward next season.

“We had some success so they are anxious to go,” Altman said. “We have guys that love ball and that is what you want as a coach. You want guys who want to be in the gym.”

Summer in Spain

Oregon will play an exhibition tour of Spain this summer after having to cancel a similar trip last year.

The Ducks were scheduled to play five games in 10 days last August, but had to cancel the trip because Bell, Elgin Cook and Trevor Manuel were injured, and Ennis had conflicts with school.

Teams can take a foreign trip once every four years and with a full roster, and Altman decided to take the Ducks overseas this year.