What’s Behind The Lofty Expectations For Ducks Basketball


Published: September 13, 2016


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Have the Oregon Ducks shifted to a basketball school? The Ducks have been known as a college football powerhouse but that may change entering this fall. The football team is a top 4-5 team in the Pac-12, while on the other hand the basketball team is seen a as a top 4-5 team in the entire country.

It’s still early and the official rankings have not been released yet, but the Oregon Ducks will enter the season with respect and expectations. In three very early projected rankings, the Ducks are high on everyone’s list. USA Today has the Ducks ranked as the 4th best team in the country, CBS has them 8th, and ESPN has the Ducks round up their top 10 as the 10th best team entering the season.

Why are the Ducks ranked so high? One major reason is forward Dillon Brooks returning for his junior season. Brooks dabbled with the NBA by declaring for the draft and working out for individual teams. Brooks did not hire an agent, was not invited to the NBA Combine, and withdrew from the draft to sustain college eligibility.

Brooks was the fourth highest score in the Pac-12 last season averaging 16.7 points along 5.4 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 47% shooting. Brooks is out indefinitely after having surgery on his left foot with head coach Dana Altman giving no timetable for his return to the Oregon Ducks saying

“He’s going to be out for a while. He had surgery and we’ll just have to wait and see what the doctors say.”

Altman will be returning four starters from their Sweet 16 victory over the Duke Blue Devils: Brooks, Casey Benson, Tyler Dorsey, and Chris Boucher. Dorsey also contemplated the NBA alongside Brooks after a stellar freshman season. The former five-star recruit stands at 6’4” and averaged 13.4 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 2 assists on 44% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc in his first season.

A reason why the Ducks enter the season with a high ranking may be because of the NBA talent they have on the team. Four Ducks have three players projected to be drafted in the 2017 NBA Draft: Brooks, Boucher, Dorsey, and Jordan Bell.

On the recruiting side, the Ducks have the 12th ranked class coming in, led by scoring point guard Payton Pritchard. Pritchard could be an option off the bench for Altman when Tyler Dorsey needs a breather.

Coming off a NCAA Tournament #1 seed last March, which led to an Elite 8 appearance, the Ducks are on every college basketball fans’ radar. With a very talented core coming back, there’s no reason to doubt that the Oregon Ducks cannot repeat or improve their success this season.

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