Eugene, OR – It figures to be a difficult college basketball season in the state of Oregon this year as both the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers likely to be in the bottom quarter of the final Pac-12 standings. Oregon has only three returning scholarship players after losing five seniors, two transfers and three players for disciplinary reasons. The Ducks bring in a class of six players with one, center Michael Chandler, currently on the bench with a knee problem.
Next season will be better for both teams as they both have an excellent start to 2015 recruiting. Oregon has commitments from 4-star recruits 6’0 Kendall Small and 6’9 Trevor Manuel and are in the mix for other top players. The Beavers went the nepotism route in signing Top-100 recruits, 6’7 Tres Hinkle (son of Head Coach Wayne) and 6’4 Stephen Thompson Jr. (son of Assistant Coach Stephen). They also have 4-star center in 6’8 Drew Eubanks and 3-star PG Derrick Bruce on the way. But both teams must first get through this season.
Oregon took the floor for the first time tonight in an exhibition game against NAIA Northwest Christian University which is located across the street from the Ducks campus in Eugene and is coached by former Oregon All-American Luke Jackson. As expected the game wasn’t much of a contest with Oregon rolling out to a 30-5 lead. NCU came back in the final eight minutes of the half to close the lead to 49-30. The Ducks then coasted in the second half to a 101-69 win led by 27 points from Joseph Young and 20 points and eight rebounds from Elgin Cook.
It’s tough to get a feel for a team in an exhibition game but it looks like Oregon has some decent pieces to build on. Obviously their centerpiece will be the 6’2 Young (18.9 ppg) who will likely be looked upon to put up major numbers this season. Young will also need to show some point guard skills to have a chance to be selected in the 2015 NBA Draft. 6’6 Cook (6.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg), the other returnee who will start, is undersized but will need to provide inside work in a small frontcourt.
Among the newcomers 6’8 Jordan Bell should provide some rebounding and shot-blocking. 6’7 Juco transfer Dwyane Benjamin is athletic and should be able to put some points on the board as will 6’6 frosh Canadian Dillon Brooks. Oregon got Brooks to reclassify to the 2014 class in a smart move. 6’1 PG Ahmaad Rorie initially committed to Cal and was able to sign with the Ducks after Mike Montgomery retired. Rorie looks like he’ll be a solid player in time who will be able to play both guard spots. 6’3 frosh PG Casey Benson, the Arizona player of the year last year, will need to provide time at both guard spots. Oregon will need 6’10 Michael Chandler, their only big body, once the Pac-12 season starts. Out with a knee injury he may be ready for the first game on November 14th, but will need some time to get in game shape and make the transition from junior college.
Oregon’s pre-conference schedule is not particularly easy for a team that’s rebuilding with games against Michigan, Villanova or VCU, Mississippi, Illinois, Toledo, Detroit and UC-Irvine among the teams on the slate. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform in November and December. If they don’t get some confidence it will likely be a long Pac-12 season as their fans look forward to next season.