A few weeks ago the University of Oregon basketball team took a huge hit, as it lost three vital pieces to the future of the program due to some unacceptable actions that have been covered in depth. The entire nation heard of the situation, and surely an untrue stigma has been placed upon the university.
Coach Dana Altman has expressed his disappointment in his group of guys in his most recent interviews, as he has stressed multiple times that this behavior is unacceptable, and was totally shocked about the actions of those individuals. Altman is a recruiting genius, as he’s been able to recruit some incredible players to boost the team’s credibility across the nation. This situation was a setback in what the Ducks’ ultimate goals are … or was it?
Oregon has struggled for many years to establish a feared basketball program, and as strange as it may sound, this may have opened a door that no one would have ever imagined could have been opened. Yes, the situation that was presented to the program was disgusting, and sickening, regardless of whether or not the athletes are innocent. But, with Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson, and Brandon Austin now dismissed from the team, the Ducks have become a team in a very prosperous position.
Prosperous? Favorable? Dean, are you insane? If this happened when Altman first began to coach here, yes, I would agree that this is a terrible situation for the Ducks and it could take years, maybe even decades for their recovery. However, with the timing of the players’ departure, Oregon can make some situational moves.
As Dana’s time has gone on as the Oregon coach, the success of the program has only grown more and more, and a greater number of highly recruited players have shown their interest in our incredible athletic establishment every year. It started with Jabari Brown, who unfortunately didn’t feel fit for the program, all the way to today as we have an incoming three 4-star recruits and one 5-star joining our program, three of them being freshman!
The positions include a center, a guard, and two forwards. Hmmm, and don’t we already have an established shooting guard (Joseph Young) in the program who can lead by example and mentor the younger players in their roles?
Dana Altman is always thinking one step ahead of everyone else, and with the situation playing out as it is, the Ducks have put themselves in a position to be one of the best teams in the Pac-12, if not the nation, within the next couple of years, something I never could have said confidently with the personnel that was previously on the team.
It all starts with a position that has been long lost for the Ducks — center. Who was the last great center for the Ducks that was really able to dominate the paint? Yeah, I don’t remember anybody either. But, with 6’10”, 240 lbs., Michael Chandler – former teammate of Elgin Cook with Northwest Florida State – joining the squad, he’ll probably be the closest thing to a great center that the Ducks have had in recent years. With height, and size, and the ability to score on the inside, Oregon should feel a lot more comfortable with Chandler starting things off for the Ducks.
It doesn’t end there, as right next to Chandler on the other side of the paint, will be Jordan Bell. He is a 6’7″ monster, as he puts fear in every person coming into the key. In fact, they usually get embarrassed badly at the rim. I can’t say enough about this young man, so check out Lawrence Hastings’ analysis of Jordan Bell for more in-depth coverage on whom Lawrence calls, “The Bug Zapper.”
But, the fun doesn’t end there, as Coach Altman has acquired an incredible amount of talent in such a short period of time. Starting at the three spot is a little unsure, as Cook has worked his tail off. However, incoming freshman Dwayne Benjamin may be even more talented!
The young man dropped 21 points and 8 rebounds a game in his senior year of high school, and his ceiling for growth goes as high as he’s willing to work. The kid is a beast, and it will be interesting to see who wins the battle between the two, or maybe three if Bell’s starting job is challenged due to this kid’s talent. Here’s a little taste of what Benjamin can do to spice up the squad:
We obviously know Young has incredible ability, so no need to talk about what our MVP adds to the team. As long as he continues to improve on his ability to handle the ball and take it to the basket, the Ducks should be set with the best 2-guard in the conference.
But finally, who’s going to get the ball to all of these talented athletes? Who’s going to take over the role that we’ve loved so much over the past four years with Johnathan Loyd running the point? Coach Altman has an answer for that too, as he is bringing in one of the most talented point guards in the nation, something we haven’t heard about in a very long time. The name is JaQuan Lyle, and this kid will be your favorite point-guard in the games to come.
At an incredible height of 6’5″, the guy can handle the ball. Handles, stroke, vision, rebounding, defense, aggressiveness … he’s got it all, baby! He may not be as quick due to his height, but man can this kid run the point. If he can develop into the player he has the potential to be, watch out as he could be the future of not only this league, but the big boy’s league too. If you don’t believe me, just watch:
So, yeah, whatever you knew about the Ducks as a team, scratch that. This is a whole new dynamic squad, and they’re coming harder, faster and stronger than ever!
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck