The Oregon Ducks are riding high following a 28 point win against UC Irvine and advancing their record to 10-0. Three games away from the start of conference play, Oregon and Arizona are the only Pac-12 teams still undefeated. How have they been so successful to start the season following the loss of three strong seniors from last year’s team? The answer is impact players, and transfer Jason Calliste is one of them.
Calliste is a 6-foot-2, 172 pound redshirt senior from Scarborough, Ontario, and has been a force on the hardwood since joining the Ducks. After the success of Arsalan Kazemi and Devoe Joesph, Dana Altman decided to throw his line into the transfer pool again. He came out with Calliste who played for the Detroit Titans for four years before transferring to Oregon at the end of August.
Calliste played his senior year of high school at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, NC, averaging 24 points and 11 assists per game. His AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) coach Jeff Bishop of the GC Ballers program spoke to Scout NY Preps saying of Calliste, “He is such a competitor. He wants to win every game, play every possession hard.” He led the team to a 26-7 season and a No. 6 ranking in the state. Coming out of high school, Calliste was a 4-star recruit according to Rivals who placed him at 86th overall, and the 20th ranked guard.
When Bishop asked why he thought Calliste would do well in college he said, “Because he plays so hard and can score and defend, he should do well on any level.”
As a redshirt junior at Detroit last year, he averaged 14.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, making him the team’s second leading scorer. During his time with the Titans, he scored over 1000 points and had a career average of 11.1 points per game over 100 game. Calliste and Joesph Young are the only current Oregon players to have earned that achievement.
Calliste left Detroit after assistant basketball coach Derek Thomas resigned when it was discovered that he had an affair with athletic directer Keri Gaither. This brought a lot of upheaval to the program and resulted in the transfer of Calliste and the early entrance into the NBA draft of another Detroit starter.
On his decision to transfer from Detroit for his redshirt senior year, Calliste told the Detroit Free Press, “I needed to go; I was done with it. I gave four years, and I gave all that I could give. It’s time to move on. I’ve been there for so long. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. I know there’s always going to be bad situations, but I just left like it could have been a better situation…” All we can say is that the Titan’s loss is the Duck’s gain.
In the first game of the season against Georgetown, Calliste helped lead the Ducks to a 82-75 victory with 16 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds. So far this season Calliste is averaging 10.8 points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Fellow Duck Mike Moser told the Daily Emerald regarding Calliste, “We know how he can play. Just be a leader, hit open shots and create for others. That’s just what he’s been doing out here. Considering everything he’s been through with his hip surgery it’s pretty impressive how he can guard guys the length of the floor.”
Alongside Young and Moser, Calliste has given Oregon fans yet another reason to keep believing in Coach Dana Altman’s ability to bring in transfers who make a big impact. Speaking to the Daily Emerald, Dana Altman said, “Jason is a really veteran player. Jason just knows how to play. He’s tough and he’ll give us a lot.”
If the Duck’s can keep up their current momentum and fix the mistakes, nothing is going to stop them. Expect this Oregon team to win yet another Pac-12 Tournament and once again collect a ticket to the dance.