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Jeff Eisenberg

Guard Malcolm Armstead may become Oregon's fifth departure

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Whatever slim chance Oregon had of being competitive in the Pac-10 in Dana Altman's first season in Eugene may have just disappeared altogether.

A source with knowledge of the situation told KVAL-TV this weekend that starting guard Malcolm Armstead has asked for and received his release from Oregon. If true, Armstead would become the fifth Ducks player to transfer out of the program since longtime coach Ernie Kent was fired in March.

Whereas Matt Humphrey, Josh Crittle, Drew Wiley, and Jamil Wilson all left either before or immediately after the hiring of Altman, the timing of Armstead's apparent departure three months later is a bit more curious. Furthermore, the junior guard likely would be Oregon's best returning player next season after averaging 10.3 points and a team-high 4.3 assists as a sophomore and setting a school record with 65 steals.

Many Pac-10 prognosticators already projected the Ducks to finish last for a second straight year next season, so losing Armstead could be a bit of a double-edged sword for the program.

In the short term, it would deprive the already talent-starved Ducks of one of their best players and increase the likelihood of an ugly record in Altman's first year on the job and in the inaugural season in the school's new arena. In the long run, it will give point guard of the future, promising incoming freshman Johnathan Loyd, a chance to learn on the job during a rebuilding season.

Ultimately, Armstead's apparent decision to transfer only underscores the need for patience from Oregon basketball fans. Kent left Altman a giant mess to clean up, and it's going to take the former Creighton coach at least two or three years to make the Ducks competitive again.

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