Oregon basketball has evolved quite a bit over the course of just a couple seasons. Our seniors, who played their last home game on Thursday, have left their imprint on the program; hopefully, it will be felt for years to come. When you compare the team of today to the team of just two short years ago, there is no comparison. The talent, team chemistry, and the joy of playing basketball are at a new level this year. The freshman play of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson are having just as much to do with this year’s success as the play of the seniors. As immediate starters, they have carried the Ducks to new heights; playing sometimes like seniors, and putting the team on their backs.
With such a culture change within a span of only a couple years, the Ducks are headed in the right direction. To keep on rising, they must recruit well and bring in players who can have as much impact as Artis and Dotson did this year. Over the past years the Ducks have landed some big names in five-star recruits Jamil Wilson (2009) and Jabari Brown (2011); however, within their first year at Oregon they both transferred, and the Ducks watched their key pieces of the future walk away.
Last year, the Ducks came oh-so-close to landing Anthony Bennett, who is projected to be a lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft. For the Oregon basketball coaches, it must be frustrating to know how close they were to assembling a team which could be a legitimate contender for a national title.
Altman is on a mission. He even made an in-home visit to top prospect Aaron Gordon while on the road for the Bay Area series. The freshman class of this year is a solid base for years to come. The Ducks have the facilities, fans and overall atmosphere to appeal to big-name prospects. All it takes is one to commit and flood gates could open with others following.
The overall culture of Ducks basketball is changing, and fast. The future is bright for the Ducks on the hardwood; hopefully Oregon can soon be known nationally for more than just their football program (well, football, track, cross-country, volleyball, baseball, softball, golf…) — Coach Altman is certainly doing everything in his power to add basketball to the growing list.