Oregon Ducks

Payton Pritchard becomes program’s all-time leader in assists in the most special way

Payton Pritchard becomes program’s all-time leader in assists in the most special way

Add another chapter to the illustrious collegiate career of Payton Pritchard.

This time, the four-year starting point guard becomes the program’s all-time leader in assists.

Let’s paint the picture: The No. 11 Ducks are down on the road to the California Golden Bears. Pritchard is held to only two points in the first half, but you knew the Bears couldn’t contain the senior for long. He came out firing in the second half finishing with 21 points and dropping eight assists.

But it was one of those assists that was just a little more special than the others. It led to Pritchard breaking another record but it was how it happened that made it so special. On a fast break, Pritchard found his life-long friend, high school teammate at West Linn in Portland, Oregon, and now college teammate Anthony Mathis who drilled a three-pointer. A play the two have probably run countless times and at every level.

You love to see it. 

That's something that I'm going to remember forever. But I couldn't have done it without a lot of great teammates hitting shots. -- Payton Pritchard told reporters after the game

Pritchard now has 617 assists and counting with still about half a season to play. He is averaging 19.8 points and 5.9 assists per game and is one of just three active D1 players averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game.

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!

Why Oregon WBB “isn’t going anywhere” despite losing Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard

Why Oregon WBB “isn’t going anywhere” despite losing Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard

While we may never see the level of play that the 2016 class of Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard brought to the University of Oregon, Oregon women’s basketball head coach Kelly Graves is very optimistic.

The dynamic duo of Ionescu and Hebard brought national prominence and attention to Eugene, which aided Graves in signing the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for 2020. 

[RELATED]: Each of Oregon WBB’s 2020 recruits wins their state’s Player of the Year Award

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

Coach Graves joined host Jordan Kent on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast.

For a coach who is already in the middle of it, I’m already looking to next year and how we can do this all over again. We are obviously going to be very talented. We’ll be young, but listen the Ducks aren’t going anywhere. We’ll be there on the national landscape. — Kelly Graves 

Headlined by five five-star recruits, the future at Oregon is still very bright. 

- Sydney Parrish (a 6-foot shooting guard from Indiana) averaged 24.8 points, eight rebounds and 2.4 steals per game for 22-3 Hamilton Southeastern High School.

- Kylee Watson (a 6-foot-3 forward from New Jersey) averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds for Mainland Regional High School.

- Maddie Scherr (a 5-foot-11 guard from Kentucky) averaged 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.9 steals for Ryle High School.

- Angela Dugalic (a 6-foot-4 forward from Illinois) led Main West High School to a 30-4 record. 

- Te-Hina Paopao (a 5-foot-9 guard from California) averaged 22.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists while making 82 3-pointers on 37 percent shooting.

Not to forget the talent that came off the bench for Graves this season, who individually could have started at most D1 programs in the country: sophomore Taylor Chavez and freshman Jaz Shelley. Plus, Graves will have a healthy Sedona Prince (transfer from Texas) and Nyara Sabally (the younger sister of Satou Sabally) in addition to Erin Boley (the one returner), Holly Winterburn, Morgan Yaeger, Lucy Cochran, and Lydia Giomi.

The sellout crowds at Matthew Knight Arena aren’t going anywhere. It will remain just that: sellout. As Ionescu said in her senior day speech, “The house we built.” That house has a stable foundation.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below:

Former Duck Joe Young donating 50k medical masks to city of Houston

Former Duck Joe Young donating 50k medical masks to city of Houston

Former Oregon Ducks basketball star Joe Young is accustomed to hitting big plays. 

He did it at Oregon, he did it with the Indiana Pacers, and he's currently doing it with the Nanjing Monkey Kings of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

But on Sunday, he made what may be the most meaningful play of his career. 

With the world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and medical facilities running low on supplies, Young came in with a powerful assist. 

Well, 50,000 assists if we're being technical.

That's right, Young, a Houston native, is donating 50,000 masks to the city of Houston. 

As Pacers beat reporter Scott Agness pointed out, Young is helping out even though he is 1000s of miles away.

Young played at Oregon from 2013 to 2015. In 2015 he averaged 20.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game and was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. He went on to play three seasons with the Indiana Pacers before signing with the CBA.

Young isn't the only former Duck giving back to those in need. Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is also helping to provide meals for students in his home state of Hawaii.