By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports staff
---- — OTTUMWA — An early decision appeared as if it wouldn't take Richard Amardi much further than a few hours by car north of his new home away from home this past November.
A new twist and few turns later, Amardi has found a new home. One that is going to require a little bit more then a few hours by car to get there.
The native of Scarborough, Ontario, who was prepared to call the state of Iowa home for the remainder of his college career is now headed to the great northwest. Just over a week after being let go from his scholarship to Iowa State to allow the Cyclones to sign Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane, Amardi chose to sign with Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks on Friday.
No, Amardi won't be experiencing Hilton Magic next season. Instead, nuances like a forest background painted onto the playing floor at Matthew Knight court and some of the flashiest uniforms in all of college sports as well some of the top campuses in the world will await the former Warrior.
"The facilities up there are second to none," Indian Hills head coach Barret Peery said. "I think Richard will really love it up there."
It was Peery who helped guide Amardi on a path he didn't expect to be heading down earlier this month. After signing with Iowa State back in November, Amardi was set to join the Cyclones throughout his sophomore season at Indian Hills where the 6-9, 225-pound forward averaged eight points and 5.2 rebounds a game for the 26-4 Warriors, making 11-straight starts in the second half of the campaign.
Amardi was reportedly right on schedule to join his fellow Warrior teammate Dustin Hogue at Iowa State just a few weeks ago, expecting to enroll in summer classes at the school to begin the academic side of his life in Ames before working to compete for a spot in the Cyclones’ rotation this upcoming season. Hoiberg then made a very late run at Kane despite ISU already having hit the limit for the school on scholarships that can be offered.
When Kane agreed to join Iowa State, Amardi’s scholarship was the one that was freed up. Rather than leaving Amardi high and dry for next season, Peery said the young man truly saw how much people wanted a player with his talents.
"Once he became available, it became a feeding frenzy among a who's who of programs," Peery said. "I think the biggest thing that stands out for me is that (Oregon) Coach (Dana) Altman has had great success coaching junior college kids both in his time at Kansas State, Creighton and even now at Oregon."
In fact, Amardi will be joining a recruiting class that already includes junior college transfers Elgin Cook from Northwest Florida State and Jalil Abdul-Bassit of North Idaho. Oregon is coming off a very successful season, having advanced all the way to the "Sweet 16" before falling short despite giving eventual national champion Louisville a tough battle in the Midwest Regional Semifinals.
The defending Pac 12 Tournament champions indeed had plenty to offer Amardi. Even with a short list that included traditional powers Gonzaga and Kansas State, the Ducks became an easy choice.
"There was just something very different up there," Peery said. "I think it became a very easy decision once he made that visit there. We knew going into the process it was going to be very challenging, but once he made that visit, he knew that's what he wanted."
Peery also believes that the second chance Amardi was given to choose his new home to continue his college career should prove to be a very beneficial one. Both Amardi and Peery went into the past week carefully going over which teams would best be suited for a player like Amardi — a versatile athletic force that can both power into the paint and spot up to shoot.
"We definitely did our homework with him on all of the schools that were interested in him," Peery said. "In Oregon, there is a definite need for him to step in right away."
Besides finding a place where he can step on the court right away, Amardi also learned a lot about the process that comes with college basketball both in a positive and negative light. In the end, Peery believes the story of Amardi in the end is one that can only be viewed as a positive.
"It definitely opened his eyes up to the business side of things and the opportunity side of things. That's when things got exciting for him," Peery said. "We're excited for sure. I think we saw Richard grow a lot in the 12 months he was here. He grew so much and a person that is a legitimate candidate to be where he ended up."
"It's a definite success story at the end of the day."