Houston hasn't garnered many national headlines this offseason. But almost all of them have -- in fact, I think, every single one of them has -- revolved around Joseph Young's decision to transfer to Oregon that came after his father, who was on staff, refused to accept a reassignment within the athletic department.
It's a weird and messy ordeal.
It's actually part of a pending lawsuit.
And it could be the thing that keeps the Cougars from competing with Louisville, Memphis, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Temple for a spot in the top half of the American Athletic Conference standings. Young, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged a team-best 18.0 points per game last season. His loss is a big loss. But it could be offset to some degree if Danrad "Chicken" Knowles makes an impact in the frontcourt.
"We think he presents great problems because of his size and length and ability to shoot the ball and stretch the floor," Houston coach James Dickey told me by phone earlier this week. "We're excited about having him on campus."
You might remember Knowles from Houston's heralded 2012 recruiting class. (If nothing else, you remember a dude nicknamed "Chicken," right?) He was a borderline top-50 national prospect and key component of a recruiting class designed to eventually help Houston -- this historically relevant basketball program that played for the national title twice in the 1980s -- make the NCAA tournament for just the second time since 1992. And he still might do it. We'll see. But that plan was put on hold last September when Knowles, a 6-foot-10 forward, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.
Consequently, Knowles spent a year away from organized basketball.
But now he's back.
That gives Houston a trio of really talented players -- the others are junior TaShawn Thomas (16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game last season) and sophomore Danuel House (12.4 points and 4.9 rebounds last season) -- that could help the Cougars again become nationally relevant as they transition into a new league.
"I like our team," Dickey said. "I like our talent level."