Dana Altman was tested in new ways by Bol Bol.
The 7-foot-2 freshman could take the ball up court for the Ducks, sometimes with a dribble between the legs or behind his back. He could post up for a hook shot, step out for a mid-range jumper and shoot better than 50 percent on three-pointers.
Bol was the rim protector who blocked 2.7 shots per game while altering at least that many more. He led the Ducks in rebounding with 9.6 per game while being the most-watched player every time he stepped on the court.
“Bol was a lot of fun to work with and selfishly, the thing that I will miss, is going to practice with him,” Altman said Friday. “I am sorry to see him play only nine games because I really looked forward to growing as a coach and have him grow as a player throughout the year.”
Altman lost his top scorer and rebounder when Bol ended three weeks of mystery Thursday by announcing his college career was over due to a fractured bone in his left foot that required surgery. He will spend the next couple of months recovering before declaring for the NBA draft.
Altman said he supported Bol’s decision to have surgery so that his foot will properly heal, noting that even the most optimistic diagnosis would not have allowed Bol to return to the Ducks until late in the season.
Altman did not give any detailed updates of Bol’s process following the injury and acknowledged Friday that was at the request of Bol’s family.
“Since his injury we have not been able to say anything,” he said. “They handled it the way they wanted and I totally agree with everything they did. They saw a number of specialists to come up with the best way to approach his injury. They handled it like their family should. … They wanted to do it out of the limelight without everybody talking about it.”
Altman said he has “opened the door” for Bol to return to Oregon and rehab around the team, but was unsure of his plan for the upcoming months.
“The university and athletic department have been tremendous about wanting to help support any players that have played here,” Altman said. “I know the school is behind whatever he wants to do.”
Altman said Bol became one of the most popular players among his teammates.
“I just feel bad for Bol because he is a really good young man to work with,” Altman said. “He is a unique talent and a great personality. He was a lot of fun to work with.”
Bol’s announcement came one day after sophomore Abu Kigab decided to transfer to another school, leaving Oregon with eight scholarship players until Kenny Wooten returns from injury in about one month. Kigab is the third UO player to transfer since the end of last season, joining Keith Smith and M.J. Cage.
“I was disappointed Abu made the decision to leave,” Altman said. “I don’t want anyone to leave any year we’ve been here. I like the guys and once they are here, they are yours."