USC Trojans: NCAA Grants Hardship Waiver to Omar Oraby

By Evan Barnes

USC’s season got an unexpected boost as they received news Thursday that center Omar Oraby was awarded a hardship waiver by the NCAA and will be available in Friday’s season opener against Coppin State.

The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times and ESPN LA. Oraby, a native of Egypt, transferred from Rice in September and has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Since his arrival, he’s been practicing with the team.

At 7-2, Oraby is the Trojans’ third 7-footer on the roster along with Dewayne Dedmon (7-0,) and James Blasczyk (7-1). Despite only averaging 11.6 minutes for Rice last season, he set a single-season school record with 54 blocks.

For USC, this is wonderful news. Oraby will start right away at center and be a defensive anchor. He and Dedmon could form a tandem that could rival UCLA and Arizona’s size. It allows the Trojans to potentially have a 7-footer on the court at all times.  If you throw in transfers Renaldo Woolridge (6-9) and Eric Wise (6-6, 240 lbs.), the Trojans have quite a few forward/center combinations they can throw at teams.

Considering the Trojans finished first in the Pac-12 last year in scoring defense, adding Oraby to the mix will make it even harder for teams to score. He’ll also make it easier for guards Jio Fontan and J.T. Terrell to defend on the perimeter and take chances.

Overall, this moves USC from being just a middle of the pack team to a top four team in the Pac-12. Maybe not surpassing UCLA and Arizona yet but they’ll contend with Stanford, Cal and Colorado.

Follow me on Twitter @Evan_B

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