The long-awaited debut of Louis King may come at Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday.
The five-star freshman who has missed Oregon’s first seven games while rehabbing a torn meniscus is likely to play when the Ducks host Nebraska-Omaha at 5 p.m. King needed to get final clearance from trainer Clay Jamieson on Friday evening and then Jamieson would give coach Dana Altman an idea of how many minutes the 6-foot-9 forward can play.
King is likely to start out by playing around 10 to 12 minutes per game in his first few outings.
“He has been practicing with us and looking good,” Oregon sophomore guard Victor Bailey said. “He is getting his feel back and we are getting used to playing with him. He’s a solid player so I think he will be fine.”
King, a McDonald’s All-American, was a consensus top-20 recruit out of Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City, N.J. where averaged 15.2 points before his senior season ended in January due to the knee injury.
“He has got really good energy and he’s a good scorer,” Altman said. “We are having trouble moving the ball and I think he can make plays for his teammates. He can finish some plays. With as little as he’s been able to practice, he’s been pretty solid.”
King will give Altman a 10-man rotation that could be shuffled against the Mavericks. Altman has talked about getting freshman Will Richardson more minutes and that could include moving him into the starting lineup, but the coach said he would not finalize his starters until game day.
Richardson, who had a foot injury that kept him out of practice for a few weeks prior to the season, has played at least 20 minutes in each of the last four games and increased his scoring in each outing. He had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in last Saturday’s 65-61 loss at Houston.
“He’s done a good job for us,” Altman said.
The Ducks (4-3) have dropped two straight games as they return home to play four games in 11 days. Oregon is a 19-point favorite over the Mavericks, but lost its last home game 89-84 to Texas Southern, which was a 25-point underdog.
“We’ve got to have some urgency, but we don’t want to panic,” Altman said. “We are one month into it. On Jan. 7, we need to be a hell of a lot better and on Feb. 7, we need to be a hell of a lot better and on March 7, we need to be a hell of a lot better. But it has to start now.”
Nebraska-Omaha (3-6) lost 79-75 last month at Colorado and fell 89-71 at Arizona State.
Oregon assistant Kevin McKenna was the head coach at Nebraska-Omaha from 2002-05 when it was a Division II school before being replaced by current coach Derrin Hansen, who moved the Mavericks up to Division I in 2011.
“They had Colorado on the ropes a few weeks ago,” said Altman, who played exhibition games against Nebraska-Omaha when he coached at Creighton. “They are well-coached and know what to do with each possession. We will have our hands full.”