Oregon Ducks

Four-star dual threat QB Robby Ashford commits to the Oregon Ducks

Four-star dual threat QB Robby Ashford commits to the Oregon Ducks

The Ducks are adding another quarterback to their 2020 recruiting class.

Despite Jay Butterfield, the nation’s third ranked pro-style quarterback, enrolling early in Eugene in January, it looks like the Ducks are not done just yet.

Four-star dual threat quarterback and recent Ole Miss decommit Robby Ashford signed with the Oregon Ducks during Early Signing Day Wednesday. He's the 10th ranked dual threat quarterback in the 2020 high school class.

He initally planned to sign in February, but changed his mind. 

According to 247Sports national recruiting director Steve Wiltfong, four-star dual-threat quarterback Robby Ashford arrived in Eugene Friday night for an official visit this past weekend ahead of the early signing period. 

He recently decommitted from Ole Miss following the firing of then-Rebels head coach Matt Luke and the hiring of Lane Kiffin.

Before committing to Ole Miss, Oregon did make his top-eight schools.

Here are Ashford’s junior season highlights.

Check out all of the recruits who signed with the Ducks here... 

Sabrina Ionescu wins 2019-2020 Senior CLASS Award

Sabrina Ionescu wins 2019-2020 Senior CLASS Award

Sabrina Ionescu embodies everything that goes with the term student-athlete. 

On Tuesday, Ionescu became the first student-athlete from Oregon to win the Senior CLASS Award.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character and competition.

Being able to play the game I love with people that I love has been nothing short of amazing. It has taught me life lessons that I wouldn't have been able to learn doing anything else. Attending the University of Oregon and getting my undergraduate degree, and now working towards my Masters, has prepared me for life after basketball and has shaped me into the person that I am. — Sabrina Ionescu

Just over one year ago, Ionescu announced that she would forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and No. 1 overall pick to return to Oregon for her senior season. She coined it as “Unfinished Business” in a letter in the Players’ Tribune to Duck Nation. One of the reasons why she decided to return to school was not just a shot at a national championship, but also a chance to earn her Masters Degree in Advertising and Brand Responsibility from the University of Oregon.

Sabrina Ionescu is an exceptional student-athlete that exemplifies all the qualities necessary for the Senior CLASS Award. She has displayed great poise and determination by balancing her record-breaking performances on the court at Oregon with her classroom studies. Her strong character and involvement within the Eugene community has enabled Sabrina to be a true champion and well-deserving of this prestigious award. We offer our congratulations to Sabrina Ionescu and the University of Oregon. — Erik Miner, Executive Director of the Senior CLASS Award

Ionescu was also named a Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-American along with Lauren Cox (Baylor), Ellie Harmeyer (Belmont), Mikayla Pivec (Oregon State) and Brenna Wise (Indiana). Teammate and fellow senior Ruthy Hebard was named to the Second Team. 

We are 17 days away from hearing Ionescu's name be called No. 1 overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft.

Payton Pritchard compares himself to NBA talent T.J. McConnell, Steve Blake, Luke Ridnour

Payton Pritchard compares himself to NBA talent T.J. McConnell, Steve Blake, Luke Ridnour

Basketball life for Payton Pritchard has changed environmentally from the gym to his garage and the hills of West Linn, Oregon.

The Oregon men’s basketball star, Pac-12 Player of the Year, Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award winner and first Oregon first-team consensus All-American in 80 years is on the verge of hearing his name called in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

And while Pritchard, along with the rest of the state of Oregon, is told to remain at home, Pritchard is making the most of it: recording ball-handling skill videos from his garage and running the hills of West Linn, Oregon. For those of you who live in that area, it’s no easy feat. 

Pritchard tested the NBA waters following his junior season, but was told by NBA scouts that he needed to be “March Pritchard” for an entire season. Consistency was key and that’s exactly what head coach Dana Altman and the team got from Pritchard in his final season in Eugene.

The Oregon men’s basketball star joined the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with NBA champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon to chat about what feedback he has received from the NBA following this historical season and what advice Frye could pass along.

Guys like T.J. McConnell, Steve Blake, Luke Ridnour, that just ran the show, weren’t problems and ran the right plays. I think that’s going to be my biggest role coming into the league and hopefully I can expand on that. — Payton Pritchard

Channing offers up two pieces of advice to Pritchard as he begins this journey at the next level: 

1. Always have somebody you can trust to tell you the real answer. 

2. Don’t ever take a day off, or a play off.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with Pritchard below:

NCAA does not grant winter sport athletes additional year of eligibility

NCAA does not grant winter sport athletes additional year of eligibility

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic forcing the NCAA to cancel all winter and spring athletic championships, many wondered if players that didn't get to finish on their terms would be granted additional eligibility. 

Well, we have our answer.

The NCAA announced that spring sport athletes affected by their seasons being cut drastically short will all be granted an additional year of eligibility which includes sports such as softball, track and field, and baseball. The later sport will increase their limit to players allowed as baseball is the spring sport with such a limit according to the NCAA press release.

 

This is good news for athletes such as Oregon softball star Haley Cruse who saw her senior season cut short after a great start to the season. If she wants to come back she can, although she tweeted earlier that she hadn't made a decision yet.

However, winter sports athletes did not get the same treatment as many of them got to play all, if not most of their regular seasons, and just missed out on a chance to compete for a national championship.

Winter sports were not included in the decision. Council members declined to extend eligibility for student-athletes in sports where all or much of their regular seasons were completed. - NCAA

This includes senior basketball athletes such as Payton Pritchard, Sabrina Ionescu, Tres Tinkle, and Mikayla Pivec. The first three still all planned to pursue a professional career regardless if they had received an additional year or not, but Mikalya Pivec said that she would have taken another year "in a heartbeat" and returned to Corvallis.

She will not get that chance. All four of them, among the best players in their respective program's histories, had their college careers ended due to no actions of their own, but rather because they happened to play their senior seasons during the beginning of an unprecedented pandemic in United States history. 

College basketball writer Sam Vecenie of The Athletic was not surprised about the decision.

But it's hard to not feel for the seniors affected by this decision. Only 2% of college basketball athletes go on to play professionally so that means 98% of college basketball seniors had their competitive playing careers ended because they just happened to be born when they did. Nothing they could have done on the court would have changed that, and that is too bad. 

Keanon Lowe awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Keanon Lowe awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Keanon Lowe has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor following his heroics at Parkrose High School disarming and comforting a distressed student back last year.  

On March 25, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation group on Facebook posted:

Congrats to the 2020 Citizen Honors Award Honorees! These six individuals and one organization exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor. We salute their selfless actions! See the full citations and learn more about these American heroes on our website!

Single Act of Heroism Award:

Riley Howell, Waynesville, NC

Keanon Lowe, Portland, OR

Young Hero Award:

Christian Garcia, Santa Fe, TX

Cody Runyon, Rochester, MN

Service Act:

Michael Jernigan, North Richland Hills, TX

Youth Service Award:

Zachary Brooks, Summit, NJ

Community Service Hero Award:

Women Veteran Social Justice Network, Atlanta, GA

According to their website: The Foundation is dedicated to educating and inspiring Americans about the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage and sacrifice, commitment and integrity, citizenship and patriotism. 

Lowe was also named one of TIME Magazine's heroes of 2019.

Please take warning and watch at your own discretion: 

The former Oregon football wide receiver and then Parkrose head football coach is now the head coach at West Linn High School.

Las Vegas Raiders reportedly talking with Justin Herbert

Las Vegas Raiders reportedly talking with Justin Herbert

Could this potentially be an Oregon football fan’s biggest dream coming true? Two outstanding Oregon football quarterbacks together on the same NFL roster?

Potentially.

Reported on Monday by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Justin Herbert has a video call today with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The other former Oregon quarterback on the Raiders roster? Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

[RELATED]: Marcus Mariota reveals why he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders

The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up how the NFL Draft will take place.

According to Pro Football Talk, teams can contact draft prospects up to three times a week, and up to an hour at a time. So a prospect like Herbert is likely busy on FaceTime, talking to NFL coaches and personnel people frequently.

Now, several of the latest 2020 NFL mock drafts have the Los Angeles Chargers selecting Herbert with the No. 6 pick of the NFL Draft. While most signs are pointing to Los Angeles as the likely destination for the hometown hero Justin Herbert, anything can happen on draft night. The Raiders currently hold the No. 12 pick and have already signed Mariota in NFL free agency. 

So why would they take another quarterback? 

Because Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks.

[RELATED]: Marcus Mariota & Jon Gruden foreshadowed Raiders QB meetings back in 2015

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk explains: 

The Raiders say they’re sticking with Derek Carr as their starter and have signed Marcus Mariota to back him up, but given how Jon Gruden likes collecting quarterbacks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft one as well.

Not one, but potential two Ducks could send the former second round quarterback to the bench this season. How hot is that seat, Mr. Carr? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

The 'Payton Pritchard Challenge' spreads through social media

The 'Payton Pritchard Challenge' spreads through social media

After enjoying a career season where he won Pac-12 Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Championship and the Lute Olson National Player of the Year award, Payton Pritchard is at the top of his game.

But, you can only get to his heights with a lot of dedication and hard work.

After the abrupt conclusion to his senior season, Pritchard has returned to his home in West Linn where he won four consecutive 6A OSAA State Championships and became one of, if not the greatest, Oregon high school basketball player of all time.

Now as he prepares to take the next step in his career to the NBA, he has continued to work in his hometown. He showed off his excellent dribbling skills in the figure eight drill on his Twitter.

The video blew up amassing nearly 500,000 views as of the publishing of this article, prompting people to attempt the challenge themselves, including Oregon teammate Will Johnson and assistant coach Michael Mennegna got in on the action.

The challenge spread beyond Oregon too.

He also got a friendly challenger, his little sister Lexie Pritchard who plays for Santa Clara women's basketball. 

Lexie inspired others to attempt it in their own right.

Due to the demand, Pritchard released his full dribbling routine on his YouTube channel.

The all-time winningest player in program history finished his senior season as one of the nation's elite, averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The West Linn native is one of just four players nationally who led his conference in both scoring and assists and became the fourth player in conference history to do so, joining Gary Payton (Oregon State, 1989-90), Damon Stoudamire (Arizona, 1994-95) and Jason Terry (Arizona, 1998-99).

Next up for Pritchard is preparing for the NBA Draft currently scheduled for June 25, 2020 but is likely to be pushed back. 

[RELATED]: Payton Pritchard would be a great fit with the Portland Trail Blazers

Pac-12 extends suspension of organized team activities through May 31

Pac-12 extends suspension of organized team activities through May 31

The Pac-12 Conference has announced a suspension of all organized activities through May 31 in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Initially, the NCAA had canceled all winter and sports championship events before suspending all team activities through March 29. 

According to a press release from the conference itself, here are the key elements and guidelines to follow during the suspension.

  • No organized, in-person team activities of any type;

  • No in-person voluntary workouts, film study sessions, meetings, technique drills or practices of any type;

  • Virtual or online supervised voluntary workouts and skill instruction are not permitted, regardless of location;

  • Virtual group activities, including film study, are permitted to two (2) hours per week for football and four (4) hours per week for all other sports.  We are appealing to the NCAA to increase the two-hour football limit in the near future;

  • Coaches can recommend written, self-directed workout plans, and taped demonstration videos on workout plans are allowed in order to demonstrate proper form and technique;

  • In-person, on-campus nutrition may be provided in circumstances where student-athletes are unable to leave campus, and off-campus nutrition is limited to distribution of products normally available on campus;

  • It is fully permissible to provide non-athletically related support to student-athletes, including sports medicine treatments, physical therapy and rehabilitation; academic support; and mental health and wellness support; and

  • It is permissible for institutions to provide off-campus student-athletes with apparel and personal equipment that is regularly available to student-athletes when they are on campus for conditioning workouts.  It is not permissible to rent, purchase or arrange for conditioning or strength training equipment or machines.

The announcement will impact Spring Football games nationwide if they weren't already canceled like Oregon's was. 

Also, the Ducks football team will not get to have time with new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as expected so much of the new playbook will need to be installed and repped this summer if the pandemic is under control by then.

Oregon State will also have Tristan Gebbia and Chance Nolan get fewer reps than anticipated before training camp which may give Gebbia the edge since he has been in the program for a year longer than the JUCO transfer. 

Both Oregon and Oregon State are having all classes be online this spring term. 

Oregon Ducks golf coach Casey Martin fighting to save his leg

Oregon Ducks golf coach Casey Martin fighting to save his leg

Oregon golf head coach Casey Martin has been fighting battles his entire life and always come out on top.

Now, he's in his greatest fight yet, trying to save his leg.

The Eugene native has suffered from a debilitating condition called Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome since birth, which allowed him to win a lawsuit to use a cart on the PGA Tour. One misstep could cause him a catastrophic injury.

His greatest fear became dangerously close to coming true when he fractured his right tibia in October 2019 by misjudging a step on a road under construction.

"I knew this day was coming," Martin told the Eugene Register Guard,  "And it's here."

His condition allowed him to successfully win a lawsuit with the PGA Tour to use a cart to minimize risk. 

"I remember when I was in my 20s talking to doctors that had looked at my leg, they were like, 'Look, you need to really guard against this happening... I was grateful that I was able to hold it off for a long time. I thought it would happen at 27, not 47. But it has happened. I'm just going to do everything in my power to save my leg."

The Ducks were led by assistant coach Brad Lanning for the remainder of the fall schedule.  The spring season got canceled by the NCAA due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Martin has gotten used to winning championships and battles. Beyond his Supreme Court decision, he won a state title at South Eugene High, won an NCAA championship at Stanford, an additional NCAA Championship coaching Oregon in 2016 and a Pac-12 Championship in 2017. 

"If I lose my leg, it would be an above-the-knee deal, and it's pretty risky for my situation anyway," Martin later told the Register Guard. "It's something that I've recognized could happen, but I would really rather not, if I could save it, because of the risks."

We're rooting for you!

How Aari McDonald returning to Arizona for senior year affects Oregon WBB

How Aari McDonald returning to Arizona for senior year affects Oregon WBB

Just over one year ago, Sabrina Ionescu about broke the internet with her decision to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft and the No. 1 overall pick to return to Oregon for her senior season.

That same 2016 class, quarterback Justin Herbert and men’s basketball guard Payton Pritchard, also made the decision to return to Oregon for their senior seasons and had huge impacts on their respected teams: three Pac-12 championships to be precise.

On Sunday, the women’s Pac-12 Conference received a similar revelation.

Arizona guard Aari McDonald has decided to forgo the 2020 WNBA Draft and return to Arizona for her senior year. 

HOW THIS AFFECTS OREGON

The Defensive Pac-12 Player of the Year and Wade Trophy finalist, which recognizes the top player in the country, is back for another season of college hoops.

The Wildcats are ranked at No. 7 in ESPN’s way too early preseason polls for the 2020-21 season and projected to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference behind Stanford (preseason No. 2 national rank).

[RELATED]: Oregon WBB ranked outside top-10 in way too early 2020-2021 preseason poll

Arizona (24-7, 12-6 Pac-12 play) finished fourth in the Pac-12 Conference standings and No. 12 nationally following an impressive season in Tucson. 

Oregon faced Arizona twice during regular season play last season and once in postseason play in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, the Ducks winning all occasions. But McDonald did not have trouble scoring on Oregon: McDonald scored 25 points in their first meeting in Tucson; 13 points and dished out six assists in Eugene; and then 34 points in Las Vegas. 

Last season, McDonald averaged 20.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

Winning in Tucson was no easy feat last season either with the Wildcats posting a 13-3 home record and exponentially increasing attendance. 

Despite Oregon winning on all three occasions, McDonald had her way and that was with Oregon’s defensive specialist Minyon Moore, who made life tough for opponents all season long, guarding her. And with Moore, Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally all headed for the WNBA Draft, the Ducks will have to step up defensively, and it starts with Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley.

This is big news for the conference indeed.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with Oregon head coach Kelly Graves below!