#4 Oregon Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Oregon Ducks
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #4
Conference Rank: #1 Pac-12
Oregon claimed the Pac-12 regular season title and the conference tournament championship last season. The Ducks went into the NCAA Tournament as a #1 seed and had a ton of momentum. After crushing Holy Cross and slipping past Saint Joseph’s, Oregon looked very good in their victory over Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. A couple days later though Oklahoma kept the Ducks just shy of a trip to the Final Four. The Final Four will be the goal this year and the return of Dillon Brooks, who flirted with the NBA, will help. The 6-7 junior forward is a versatile scorer who led the Ducks with 16.7 points per game and added 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He is a very talented player who earned plenty of All-American accolades last year and will look to add to the collection in 2016-2017.
2015-16 Record: 31-7, 14-4
2015-16 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dana Altman
Coach Record: 154-64 at Oregon, 564-307 overall
Who’s Out:
Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin are the significant departures for Oregon. Cook was inconsistent shooting the basketball, but he was very effective attacking the basket and was second to only Brooks with 14.8 points per game. Benjamin was another versatile forward who was a threat to shoot from long range and could do a decent job finishing above the rim. Little used Kendall Small is the only other departure.
Who’s In:
Forwards M.J. Cage and Keith Smith will help fill the void left by Cook and Benjamin. Both are athletic forwards who can do a bit of everything. In most classes, Cage and Smith would be the players to watch, but Payton Pritchard and Kavell Bigby-Williams have stolen most of the headlines. Pritchard is the point guard of the future, but he can certainly shoot the ball well enough to spend time at the off-guard spot as well. Bigby-Williams is the reigning NJCAA Player of the Year after averaging 16.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.9 blocks at Gillette College in Wyoming. The 6-11, 230 pound London, England product is ready to jump into the Pac-12 and make a big splash.
Who to Watch:
The frontcourt is already quite loaded though with Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell. Those two were a huge part of Oregon’s school record setting 221 blocks. Boucher blocked nearly half of those shots with 110, while Bell added 53. Boucher also averaged 12.1 points per game and led the Ducks with 7.4 rebounds per contest. Bell does not look for his shot quite as much, but he is an efficient scorer in the paint when Oregon needs him. With those two in the paint and Bigby-Williams helping out, Oregon could again break their shot blocking record.
Final Projection:
Casey Benson had a superb season running the point, but now he has a ton of competition. After averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 assists and leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, Benson will have to compete for the starting job with Dylan Ennis. Ennis missed most of last season with an injury and can add more offense to the point guard spot than Benson can provide. With Pritchard in the mix as well, Coach Dana Altman has a lot of interesting things he can do in the backcourt. Tyler Dorsey was the team’s most effective and efficient three-point shooter a year ago and will look to build on his 13.4 points per game. Although only 6-4, Dorsey could play more at small forward this year, especially in those situations when Oregon wants more ball handlers on the floor. This team is not missing much of anything. They have a ton of talent, a load of depth and some quality postseason experience. That could lead to a trip to the Final Four.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Casey Benson, Junior, Guard, 6.0 points per game
Dylan Ennis, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Tyler Dorsey, Sophomore, Guard, 13.4 points per game
Jordan Bell, Junior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Chris Boucher, Senior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.7 (47th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.8 (94, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (44, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (108, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (190, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.3 (183, 9)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.4 (116, 5)
Rebound Margin: 3.4 (67, 5)
Assists Per Game: 13.6 (145, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (57, 2)
Madness 2017 NBA Draft Rankings:
#20 Dillon Brooks
Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#55 Payton Pritchard
#83 M.J. Cage
#105 Keith Smith