A Los Angeles Reunion

Kazemi is recovering from head and ankle injuries

EUGENE, Ore.- The Los Angeles road trip might be about as close of a homecoming as Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi will get this season.

EUGENE, Ore.- The Los Angeles road trip might be about as close of a homecoming as Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi will get this season.

An Iranian-native, Kazemi said Tuesday that he expects a big turnout from his fellow countrymen, "because the Iranian community in Los Angeles is pretty big." But the reunion won't just be in the stands, as both USC and UCLA have players that Kazemi is very familiar with.

On Saturday it will be 7-foot-2 center Omar Oraby, who Kazemi played with at Rice, before both departed for new schools last spring.

"It's kind of strange. But it's going to be fun. It's always been competitive, at practice even. He tried to block my shot back at Rice, and I tried to dunk on him," he said of the challenge of playing a former teammate.

The two have already been in contact this week via the telephone, Oraby checking in on Kazemi's injured ankle and Kazemi asking about the Trojans recent coaching change. But that hasn't been the only thing they've discussed.

"I told him he better be ready," Kazemi said.

As far as Kazemi's ankle, both of which were taped Tuesday, Kazemi says their status is improving.

"I'm alright. My ankle is bothering me still a little bit. But, I've been a getting a lot of treatment. It's getting better," he said.

Then Saturday, the Bruins will dress walk-on Sooren Derboghosian, also a member of the Iranian National team, which Kazemi led to a FIBA Asia Championship in 2009.

Derboghosian has played just six minutes this season for the Bruins, but despite his small involvement, defeating his fellow countryman would mean improved bragging rights as well as national perception.

"I've got to be ready for that game, because the media are going to say he beat Arsalan. So, that's not going to happen," he explained.

While the NBA remains the predominant basketball league in the world, Iran included, the NCAA's popularity is gaining traction in Iran, largely because of Kazemi and Derboghosian's participation. Saturday's won't be televised in Iran, Kazemi said, but he expects it to be covered in the local newspapers.

"They write about me often, about how did we do, about Oregon. Oregon is becoming pretty popular back home," he explained.

But Iranian journalists aren't the only one hotly discussing Kazemi's progress this season, head coach Dana Altman continues to anticipate a breakout for his star transfer.

"There is so much more with Arsalan. He can be so much better. I get after him all the time, and all I can get out of him is ‘Yes, coach'," he said.

"He's really a talented young man. I sure hope the second half of the season we get a lot more out of him. He needs to assert himself more, in a lot of different situations."

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