For the better part of the last four years, Oregon senior E.J. Singler has been toiling around the University of Oregon program, steadily going about his business as if he were working a boring 9-5 job. The last remaining holdover from the Ernie Kent-era, Singler has quietly put together one of the best careers in Duck history, and continues to be a consistent leader that has helped lead the program to where it is today.
For his patience, on Friday, Singler will be rewarded by running out of the tunnel in Indianapolis as his team plays Louisville in the Sweet 16.
A Medford, Oregon native, Singler arrived in Eugene looking to walk out of the shadow of his brother Kyle; then a star for the Duke Blue Devils. Kyle is now a second-year player for the Detroit Pistons, after spending last season playing overseas. Meanwhile, E.J. stayed the course for Oregon, never wavering in his desire to lead the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament – and maybe, just maybe, carve out his own legacy.
While E.J. may lack some of the traits that propelled his brother to the NBA, his leadership — despite all the turmoil that surrounded the basketball program as the Kent-era went up in flames — has endeared him to Duck fans forever. His 1,509 career points, good for 12th on the Ducks’ all-time list, might come as a surprise to some, due to the fact that he has not been prone to offensive outbursts.
Singler has been remarkably consistent since he arrived on campus, averaging between 11 and 13 points a game from his sophomore year on. He is the schools all-time leader in free throw percentage at just under 85%, while being one of the teams most consistent defenders.
Limited athletically, Singler has relied on his basketball IQ and unrelenting motor to find himself in the right place at the right time throughout his career. When joined this season by Arsalan Kazemi, both have teamed up to give Oregon the best rebounding team in the conference.
Singler’s journey through Oregon has been marked by transformations, from coaching staffs to teammate transfers. He has been the beacon of consistency, a steadying hand to lead the team through troubled waters. Now, with four wins to the ultimate prize, Singler and Co. can put a bow on one of the most surprising tournament runs in recent memory. This year’s squad was slotted to be middle of the road, neither bad nor great. With the coaching of Altman, the steady of play of Singler and fellow seniors Tony Woods and Carlos Emory, and the infusion of talent in Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, Oregon has jelled better than any of the so-called experts could have imagined.
Facing the NCAA tournament’s number one squad in Louisville, Oregon has a chance to prove to the world that they are more than a cute story; they have an opportunity to shed the “Cinderella” label. At the forefront will be E.J. Singler, anonymous and unassuming as can be. No matter when his career ends — be it Friday, the title game or anytime in between — the Singler journey will be remember as much for his loyalty as his play on the court.