By Max Feldman
Just like Ohio State, the Duck football team is not the only group bringing excitement to the campus. Slowly but surely, Oregon has become a basketball school. Coming off a Final Four in 2017 and an upset filled Sweet 16 last season as a 12 seed, the Ducks looked to continue the trend with a veteran heavy group in 2019-2020. Future Hall of Fame head coach Dana Altman is now the All-Time Win leader at U of O after last night’s season opening win. Here’s how 2019-2020 might play out.
Payton Pritchard (Senior, 6-2, 200 pounds)
The potential Player of the Year in College Basketball is finally in his Senior season. The Ducks will go as Pritchard goes in 2019-2020. The best ball-handler and the one of the best shooters in America resides in Eugene, Oregon. The starting point guard from that Final Four team is no longer surrounded by multiple inexperienced 5 star freshman, but experienced and mature players that fill specific roles. 24 points, 7 assists and 2 steals against Fresno State is a good start…
Chris Duarte (Junior, 6-6, 180 pounds)
The former top overall JUCO prospect is in his first season of Division 1 basketball, but there is no question that he belongs. He can play anywhere from the 1, with his vision and playmaking ability, all the way up to the stretch 4 in a small ball lineup with his size and ability to spread the floor. You’d think confidence on this stage might be a concern, but Duarte is not that guy. 16 shots in 32 minutes will answer that question. If it’s not Pritchard, Duarte will lead all Duck scorers in the majority of games.
CJ Walker (Freshman, 6-8, 200 pounds)
Yes, this is a preview article, and Walker is not currently starting, but he will be by the time Pac 12 play rolls around. Walker is a unicorn type player that can do just about anything. He can absolutely fly and is a potential future lottery pick due to his elite athleticism. The shooting stroke is developing, as well his confidence shooting that shot. Walker is that type of guy you just do not want to line up against because he will rise up and over to grab boards or put the ball down on the opponents head. Dana Altman loves to run, and CJ Walker fits the scheme to a tee.
Shakur Juiston (Senior, 6-7, 220 pounds)
Altman and crew landed Juiston as a graduate transfer from UNLV during the offseason, and he fits the prototypical four spot that Ducks have put out there in the past. For Duck fans, he has similar size and range to Elgin Cook. Shakur is a physically strong but undersized forward that thrives in the paint and around the rim. Dana Altman’s glue guy for 2019-20.
Francis Okoro (Sophomore, 6-9, 225 pounds)
Okoro was a former top 50 recruit from Illinois that was thrown into a big role starting 22 games last season in the Sweet 16 run. All the intangibles are there with size, strength and a massive set of shoulders. Touch and offensive capability was the concern. In game one versus Fresno State, Okoro recorded his first career double-double with 10 and 10. Watch out for the Nigerian big man to catch plenty of Payton Pritchard served up dimes, and a potential development of a go to post move.
Anthony Mathis (Senior, 6-4, 175 pounds)
Mathis is another graduate transfer from New Mexico that will come in and serve the “Jalil Abdul-Bassit” role off the bench down the stretch. Mathis is the former running mate of Pritchard at West Linn HS, and they’re trying to run back the success they found there in Eugene in both of their last runs. Mathis thrives shooting off the catch, spotting up around the arc. Mathis started game one putting up 9 points in 25 minutes.
N’Faly Dante (Freshman, 6-11, 229 pounds)
The biggest offseason story line for the Ducks. Dante was ranked as a 5 star center with a clear NBA future ahead of him. He was ruled ineligible until conference play due to academic issues with his High School, but Oregon remains semi-optimistic. The Ducks will need his shot-blocking, rebounding and size to make that extra jump in March.
Will Richardson (Sophomore, 6-5, 170 pounds)
The former Oak Hill guard started 12 games for the Ducks last year, and it would not be a surprise to see him starting games this year as well. Altman loves to run multiple ball handlers on the court at the same time to more pressure on the defense, and that will end well for Will Rich. Passing, ball handling and spot up shooting are his strengths. Added athleticism would put Richardson in a better spot find success moving forward.
Addison Patterson (Freshman, 6-6, 180 pounds)
Patterson was former top 50 recruit that reclassified to join the Ducks this season, Dillon Brooks-style. With so much wing depth and experience on this roster, minutes might be more limited but the talent is undeniable. The Canadian wing has explosive athleticism and really has no offensive weaknesses. Patterson thrives as a pick and roll ball handler finding bigs, pulling up from deep or mid-range, or attacking the rim and finishing with finesse and power. Dana Altman reeled in a star in the making.
- Pac-12 Champions
- 2-3 Wins over Gonzaga, Michigan and Memphis
- Top 4 seed in March Madness