Omar Oraby, a 7-foot-2 center who transferred from Rice to USC in September, has been granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA, meaning he’ll be eligible to play for the Trojans immediately.
Oraby, who received the news on his 21st birthday Thursday, is expected to start for USC when its men’s basketball team opens its season Friday night at home against Coppin State.
The native of Egypt averaged six points, 3.6 rebounds and set a Rice single-season record with 54 blocks last season as a sophomore — and he set that record despite playing only 11.6 minutes per game in 34 games.
Oraby is the sixth Rice player to leave the Owls program in the last year, joining point guard Dylan Ennis (Villanova), forward Jarelle Reischel (Rhode Island), forward Ahmad Ibrahim (turned pro overseas), forward David Chadwick (Valparaiso) and guard Arsalan Kazemi (Oregon).
Oraby is the third 7-footer on the USC roster. Junior Dewayne Dedmon (7-0, 255 pounds) averaged 7.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20 games last season before suffering a knee injury. Senior James Blasczyk (7-1, 260) averaged 3.2 points and 2.9 rebounds.