Just as it did last year, the next few months will determine a lot about how far Oregon’s roster can take the Duck basketball team in 2017-18. Here’s a guide to what we know, rumors we’ve heard and what’s likely to happen.
What We Know
The departures of Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis will open up two scholarships. Three more may open up, and three players will be joining the Ducks roster for 2017-18. Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey will all test the NBA waters. Dorsey just announced his intention and says he will hire an agent.
This may be one of the most misguided decisions in Oregon basketball history – we’ll see. But Dorsey’s not on a single draft board anywhere and not even as a 2nd-round choice. It’s his decision, but he’s basically giving up on an NBA career and is probably headed to Europe to make money.
Dorsey’s chances of making an NBA roster are slim for all the reasons we’ve discussed here before. The 2018 draft is so much softer that he could’ve been a late 1st-round pick. There are three Ducks on every 2nd-round draft board, but none of them are named Dorsey. Oregon’s already signed three newcomers in Troy Brown, VJ Bailey and Abu Kigab. With the departure of Dorsey, Bailey is about to get his shot at playing early next year, without a doubt.
Rumors We’ve Heard
The biggest rumors involve two players considering a transfer to Oregon. For five-star recruit Brandon McCoy to choose Michigan State, Purdue or Arizona over the Ducks, a scholarship would have to open, if that’s even an option.
Elijah Brown of New Mexico is rumored to have been in contact with the Ducks about a transfer. This makes absolute sense with Dorsey opting for the professional ranks. Brown is a graduate, so he could play immediately at Oregon.
He’s also a 6′ 4″ left-handed guard who’s scored as many as 33 points in a single game for the Lobos. The son of former NBA player and former Cleveland Cavalier head coach Mike Brown, Elijah is also considering Gonzaga, but, unlike the Ducks, the Zags don’t have the scholarship to give him.
Chase Jeter of Duke is reportedly considering a transfer to Oregon. Unlike Brown, he still hasn’t graduated so would have to sit this next season out. The 6′ 10″ center would have two years to play at whichever school he transfers after sitting out next season. He is also a graduate of Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High, the same school that produced former Duck guard Johnathan Loyd. Jeter is also considering Cal, Arizona, Utah, USC, San Diego St. and Gonzaga.
As a side note, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has announced he’ll retire. That could move Jeter off their board along with McCoy. Good news for Oregon fans on that front, as Fisher is a very good recruiter of West Coast talent.
The fact that Jeter has yet to set up any visits is a telltale sign he’s waiting to see the full list of teams that have a scholarship to offer before bothering to set visits. Feels like Jeter could be Cal- or Utah-bound, to be honest.
Oregon would only have a ride to offer if Bell leaves early, but if he doesn’t, the Ducks are in a position to make another NCAA tournament run and wouldn’t be as likely to take someone for whom they have to wait a full year. But who knows? A lot can happen in the next month. If two of the Oregon big three left, one ride could go to McCoy and the other to Jeter.
Kerem Kanter also makes a lot of sense. Kanter’s the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter. Just a junior, he would have to sit out a year, but he brings a 6′ 10″, 240 lb. body to the middle of the court, and he can shoot the three. His game has improved every year and his stats exploded last year at Wisconsin-Green Bay with real playing time.
He’d be a role player for Oregon, but if Roman Sorkin leaves and there’s a spot, his game will grow after practicing against Kavell Bigby-Williams all season long. He’s being recruited by a half dozen major schools including Michigan State, Rhode Island, Baylor and NC State. He scored 18 points and had five rebounds in a loss to Wisconsin this year.
There are no official discussions about Jeter or Kanter, of course, but don’t be surprised if someone such as Kanter arrives if Sorkin and Bell are both gone and McCoy chooses another school.
The Wildcards: Who Leaves From the Current Roster?
Crazy rumors abound here, of course, but it appears everyone but Sorkin is likely back from the rest of the roster. Sorkin could go to Israel and play immediately and he may graduate this spring or summer, which would allow him to transfer and play elsewhere. Every scholarship is a one-year contract, so he could be moving on in a few months. Again, time will tell.
Another rumor is that Casey Benson may be moving on – I don’t see that. Benson’s game has grown overall and he’s become one of the best three-point shooters on the team when he’s got a clean look. His experience, ability to play alongside any other guard and defensive intuition are invaluable to the Ducks. Anything is possible, but Benson leaving seems unlikely.
Graduate transfers will schedule visits. Whether it’s someone we’ve listed here or another shooting guard, such as Rice’s Egor Koulechov, who is reportedly also transferring, or Al Freeman of Baylor, you can bet Oregon is in the market for a proven shooter at the wing spot. McCoy’s decision could come in the next week. He could take Dorsey’s scholarship and the Ducks could make an offer to a transfer, based on Sorkin’s situation.
The situation is very fluid, and we’ll keep you updated as it evolves.
Top photo credit: from Video
A native Oregonian, Bob’s spent 16 years covering Duck football and basketball for AOL Fanhouse, OregonLive and Rivals.com. He’s also hosted a sports talk show on ESPN Radio and led marketing for the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.
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