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Drew Ellis covers Oakland University basketball for The Oakland Press. His news and notes keep you up to date with Golden Grizzlies men's basketball.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eackles' decision to transfer unsurprising

The news that sophomore guard Ledrick Eackles, a genuinely nice guy and team prankster, has decided to leave Oakland comes as no surprise Thursday. Despite his blinding speed and athleticism, the native of Zachary, La., was unable to fully reinsert himself into the rotation after suffering an ankle injury Jan. 6 vs. IUPUI. Eackles began his career a year ago as a spark plug off the bench and was attempting to do the same vs. the Jaguars as he planted his feet to go up for the alley-oop lob. He turned his ankle on the way up, and while grimacing in pain, converted the pass for a lay-in. He would miss the next four games and only had an impact in one more, the season finale at Southern Utah, where he had 10 points, while logging 22 minutes.
"It’s in mine and my family’s best interests for me to head back down south and (be) closer to home," Eackles said.

Eackles relished his reserve role as a freshman, playing in all but one game and even gained national attention in the Grizzlies' NCAA tournament loss to Pittsburgh. He scored 17 points in 23 minutes, keying what looked to be at the time, a possible Oakland rally.
(I'll never forget when, in a flurry, Eackles lofted a finger-roll in transition near the arc, while drawing contact from a Pitt guard. The bank fell, but Eackles was called for the charge.)
Eackles averaged 6.1 points per game last year in 15.9 minutes. He was getting even more minutes prior to his injury in January.
Eackles' season began under a bad sign, as he missed the team bus at West Virginia to open the season, leaving the starting role that night open for guard Travis Bader. The Freshman played 35 minutes, scoring 15 points. Bader started 21 games this year, compared to Eackles' three.
(Reggie Hamilton also missed the bus that day, but went on to have a much different season.)
It's also likely Eackles factored in the logjam at guard into his decision to leave. Besides Bader, freshman guard Ryan Bass saw critical minutes and transfer Laval Lucas-Perry become eligible next season. Larry Wright is the only graduating guard. That leaves a four-guard rotation, excluding freshmen (Dante Williams and Matt Poches), who might have a chance to play.
"He leaves with two straight championships and his time here was very productive for Ledrick and Oakland," coach Greg Kampe said. "I do understand why he is leaving and wish him nothing but the best. I will always cheer for Ledrick Eackles.”
There's probably going to be many of us who do the same.

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