Oregon Ducks

Sabrina Ionescu wins prestigious Wooden Trophy for Nation’s Most Outstanding Player

Sabrina Ionescu wins prestigious Wooden Trophy for Nation’s Most Outstanding Player

Sabrina Ionescu is simply the best. 

Hours after being named the Nancy Lieberman Award winner for the nation’s top point guard, Ionescu has been awarded the prestigious Wooden Trophy, recognizing the nation’s Most Outstanding Player, in back-to-back seasons.

It is the Cadillac of postseason awards; The Heisman Trophy of collegiate football; The MVP of the NBA. 

This is a huge honor and one fit for a queen.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award Program hosts the most prestigious honors in college basketball recognizing The Wooden Award Most Outstanding Player for men and women, The Wooden Award All American Teams for men and women and the annual selection of the Wooden Award Legend of Coaching recipient. 

Ionescu beat out Lauren Cox (Baylor), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky) and her teammate and best friend Ruthy Hebard. 

Here is a list of the postseason awards following her senior season:

- Wooden Trophy Winner - Most Outstanding Player (2x)

- Nancy Lieberman Winner - National Point Guard of the Year  (3x)

- Wade Trophy Winner - National Player of the Year (2x)

- Naismith Trophy Winner - National Player of the Year

- Associated Press National Player of the Year (unanimous)

- USBWA National Player of the Year

- ESPN.com National Player of the Year

- Senior CLASS Award Winner

- Associated Press First-Team All-America

- WBCA First-Team All-America

- Wooden Award All-America

- USBWA First-Team All-America

- AAU James E. Sullivan Award Finalist - Nation's Top Amateur Athlete

- Pac-12 Player of the Year (unanimous)

- All-Pac-12

- Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player

She is the NCAA leader in career triple-doubles (26), averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists and is the first player (male or female) in NCAA history to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. 

Forget video game numbers, Ionescu would have broken the console with those stats.

It was a glorious four-year run in Eugene. One that will be remembered forever, whether you’re ordering the famous “triple-double” at the Wild Duck Cafe in Eugene, or perhaps one day seeing her #20 jersey hanging in the rafters of Matthew Knight Arena. 

Ionescu is and has been since last season the overall No. 1 draft pick in the upcoming 2020 WNBA Draft. 

Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star, nation's No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao

Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star, nation's No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao

Entering May with only a handful of verbal commitments, Mario Cristobal said that the 2021 recruiting class could be Oregon's best yet and that the program was "big game fishing."

Approaching the end of the month, it's evident why Cristobal made those claims. Because big verbal commitments were imminent including Wednesday's news.

Four-star tight end Moliki Matavao announced his verbal commitment to the Oregon Ducks via his Instagram and live on the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.

The 6'7" tight end from Liberty High School in Nevada is a four-star recruit, the nation's seventh-ranked tight end by 247Sports and fourth-ranked tight end via composite rankings. 

The decision was expected to go Oregon's way as all eight crystal ball predictions on 247Sports had Oregon as his landing spot. 

Clearly, Mario Cristobal was excited about the big get.

In fact, he previewed his decision during an interview with the Oregonian's Andrew Nemec on his recruiting podcast citing the school's ability to utilize the tight end position effectively. 

“The home field... it’s close to home. In a sense, it is close to home,” said Matavao. “I really love the coaching staff there. Spencer Webb, their tight end, who is just a freshman produced really well. Also, watching Jacob Breeland perform and now he’s in ‘The League.’ They have all the qualities I’m really looking for.”

Matavao was able to visit the University of Oregon days before the NCAA and Pac-12 implemented a recruiting dead period due to COVID-19. 

The Ducks now have gotten commitments from three-star WDE Terrell Tilmon, four-star OT Bram Walden, and four-star Jonah Miller in addition to Matavao in the month of May alone. 

You can watch Matavao's hudl highlights below.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

NCAA extends recruiting dead period which could interfere with Oregon's Saturday Night Live event

NCAA extends recruiting dead period which could interfere with Oregon's Saturday Night Live event

As the NCAA begins to re-authorize certain aspects of college athletics, such as voluntary, in-person workouts on campus starting on June 15th, it has also pumped the breaks on other aspects, such as recruiting.

The Pac-12 suspended all unofficial and official visits for recruiting in all sports, including football on March 12. The NCAA followed suit by suspending all recruiting visits through April 15 and then extending the suspension through May 31.

Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA extended the dead period through July.

"The Division I Council Coordination Committee extended the recruiting dead period in all sports through July 31," said the NCAA in a statement. "The committee will regularly evaluate the dead period, continuing to be guided by medical experts."

“The extension maintains consistent recruiting rules for all sports and allows coaches to focus on the student-athletes who may be returning to campus,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “The committee is committed to reviewing the dead period again in late June or early July.”

Oregon has been operating virtually to recruit the 2021 class and has even secured a few highly touted commitments such as four-stars Jonah Miller and Ty Thompson, but this extension could harm the Ducks as they typically host their annual 'Saturday Night Live' camp at the end of July and get to showcase top recruits from all over the nation in-person. 

Last year, the event helped secure a commitment from four-star wide receiver Johnny Wilson, however, he would eventually flip to Arizona State on signing day. 

It also lets the recruits bond with one another and the coaches to scout the players while coaching them up so potential Ducks get a taste of what it'd be like to play for the staff. 

Oregon could always host the camp later on in the summer if the pandemic subsides, or in December in between the Pac-12 Championship and Oregon's bowl game like they planned in 2017 before Willie Taggart left for Florida State and the Las Vegas bowl caused the program to reschedule the event.

The implications of this extension from the NCAA could cause some speedbumps in the recruiting process, but on a more positive note, we've all seen how influential Mario Cristobal can be on the recruiting trail.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Chip Kelly was 'the worst communicator,' rubbed people the wrong way with Eagles

Chip Kelly was 'the worst communicator,' rubbed people the wrong way with Eagles

Chip Kelly's NFL stint did not go as planned and he's yet to recapture the magic he had while head coach at Oregon.

While the results on the field got ugly in his final season as coach of the Eagles, people didn't exactly think the world of him while he was winning, either.

“I had no relationship with Chip,” longtime radio voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese said during the Eagle Eye podcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “None.”

One story sticks out to Reese, however. 

The Eagles had just destroyed the Dallas Cowboys 33-10 to advance to 9-3 and take control of the NFC East division, all while on Thanksgiving Day in front of a nationally televised audience.

So of course, Reese was hyped about the victory and wanted to congratulate Kelly. 

I walked up to him on the plane flying home from Dallas after that great Thanksgiving night game, maybe the best game of his career here, and said, ‘Great game, Chip, it was really fun to call that,’ and he looked over and said, ‘Oh,’ and turned his head.

Not wanting to talk to the media is one thing and that's nothing new for Chip. But, is it that hard to say "thank you"? The conversation probably wasn't going to last more than a couple of minutes anyways and all Reese was doing was congratulating him. 

Reese made it sound like this type of behavior from Kelly was normal while he coached the Eagles.

“He was the worst communicator of any coach I’ve ever been around,” Reese said about Kelly. “I mean, [Rich Kotite] was mercurial, up, down all over the place, but Richie could be warm and nice. You never saw that with Chip.”

Kelly went 10-6 in both of his first two seasons as head coach in the NFL which was enough for ownership to give him control over personnel decisions. He then went on to trade away LeSean McCoy, cut Deshaun Jackson, trade for Sam Bradford, and sign Demarco Murray while using a zone-blocking scheme. 

The roster moves were so bad that Kelly would be fired 15 games into his third season after starting 6-9. He then would coach the San Francisco 49ers for a season, going 2-14 before being fired again and accepting the head coaching job at UCLA. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

There is nothing much civil about it.

The battle for bragging rights and state supremacy. 

There's college sports rivalries across the nation: The Red River Showdown, The Backyard Brawl, The Holy War, Tobacco Road, World's Largest Outdoor (Cocktail) Party, Bedlam Series, The Iron Bowl. 

So, how did the Oregon-Oregon State series get its name?

The term “Civil War” first appeared in newspapers way back in 1929 -- when an Oregon coach equated the game’s importance in the state to the Civil War -- and it caught on. In just a few years it came into general usage. That’s because, just like the actual Civil War did in border states, the rivalry is something that has divided the state, often pitting brother against brother and caused families to choose sides.

Or, in these games, it’s often been husband vs. wife in allegiance to one school or the other.

With the football games, it’s not as obvious as North vs. South. The enemy is more stealth.

One-time OSU head coach Dee Andros once famously said that the game is “for the right to live in the state of Oregon.”

And sometimes, allegiances can be complicated.

The voice of the Beavers, Mike Parker, is actually a graduate of Oregon. Don Essig, the long-time public address announcer for Duck football and basketball, is a graduate of Oregon State.

But one man stands above everyone else in terms of seeing both sides of the series of games between Oregon and Oregon State and he is Rich Brooks -- someone who competed, with great success, on both sides of the fence..

Brooks played at Oregon State and then later served as an assistant coach there. But then he became head coach at Oregon, where he won more games against the Beavers than any other Duck coach. When you step on the playing field at Autzen Stadium, you’re standing on “Rich Brooks Field.”

Attempts have been made to dump that Civil War moniker, but it’s seemingly just too ingrained now. Sports columnists and editors over the years tried in vain to ban the reference, but it just won’t go away.

There has never been a long-lasting trophy given to the winner of the game, although there was one carved out of maple in 1959 that was given to the winner for a few years. Called the “Platypus Trophy,” it was in the image of the animal with a duck-like bill and a beaver-like tail. The trophy was lost for more than four decades before being found in a closet at McArthur Court and is now reportedly exchanged by booster clubs for the schools.

But it isn’t something that’s become an icon for the winner, who after all, gets to live in the state for another year.

LeGarrette Blount made a promise before Super Bowl 52 and fufilled it

LeGarrette Blount made a promise before Super Bowl 52 and fufilled it

LeGarrette Blount had one of the most improbable professional careers of any Oregon Duck.

From punching a Boise State player on national television that caused him to miss most of his senior season, totaling 14 total carries in the Ducks' remaining games. After going undrafted, he made a name for himself in the NFL as a physical, bruising running back that would go onto to win three Super Bowls: two with the New England Patriots and one with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Leading up to Super Bowl 52, Blount seemed confident in his ability to bring a championship to Philly.

In an interview during the Eagle Eye podcast on NBC Sports Philadelphia, the longtime radio voice of the Eagles, Merrill Reese, remembered one interaction the day before the big game that foreshadowed the win.

I was wearing a 2004 NFL Championship ring... I was in the lobby of the hotel, the team hotel, the day before the game. And then all of a sudden somebody picks me up from behind and lifts me high in the air with a great big bear hug. And he puts me down and I say 'Who is this?' I turn around and it's LeGarrette Blount, and LeGarrette Blount looked at it and said 'What's that ring?' 'Oh,' I said 'that's the NFC [Conference Championship] ri-' 'That's a loser's ring. That's a loser's ring. I'm going to get you a real ring tomorrow... Merill, I promise you a real ring.'

Get him a real ring he did as the Eagles defeated the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl 52 to give the franchise its first-ever Super Bowl championship. Blount ran for 90 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown run in the victory.

"They don't win that Super Bowl without LeGarrette Blount," stated Reese on the podcast. 

That interaction wasn't the only memorable one for Reese between him and the former Oregon Duck.

When the Eagles signed Blount to a one-year, $1.25 million contract that offseason Reese wasn't excited about the signing: "Because as you guys know he had a track record behind him that wasn't exactly Mrs. Congeniality. And two, that summer he did nothing. I mean he didn't get you two yards in a cloud of dust he got you a cloud of dust and a half an inch. That was it." 

When the games started, Reese saw a whole new side of Blount. One that helped the Eagles win. 

"We went out to San Diego that year and that was his coming-out party. I mean, he was amazing. He ran all over the field he ran for over 100 yards. And at one point he broke loose on a 50-yard run from my right to my left, I can still see it, and I said 'He's loose! He's a runaway train!'"

Blount finished the game with 16 rushes for 136 yards, including a 68-yard run.

Reese wasn't the only one who remembers that call. 

"So I go into the locker room on Tuesday and I'm speaking with somebody and all of a sudden LeGarrette Blount comes walking over with this menacing look and he points at me and says 'Merill Reese.' I say "Yes.' He said 'I just loved when you called me a runaway train!' and he gives me this great big hug."

Blount ended up being one of Reese's favorite players that season.

"I got to know him over that year and he became one of the nicest people to be around."

That's why you never judge a book by its cover.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Justin Herbert is already ranked ahead of current NFL starting QBs

Justin Herbert is already ranked ahead of current NFL starting QBs

Justin Herbert hasn’t taken a single snap in the NFL yet, but that doesn't stop people from realizing his potential. 

The former Pac-12 champion and Rose Bowl Offensive MVP was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers with the sixth pick overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Since then, players and pundits have weighed in on the tremendous ability in the Oregon QB.  

NBC Sports’ Chris Simms sees it, too.

On Wednesday, Simms released a portion of his Top-40 quarterbacks in the NFL heading into the 2020-2021 season.

Here are 40-36:

40. Tua Tagovaila (Dolphins)

39. Dwayne Haskins (Redskins)

38. Mitchell Trubisky (Bears)

37. Justin Herbert (Chargers)

36. Taysom Hill (Saints)

Simms adds, “We discussed during PFT Live the things that makes Herbert potentially special, and the areas in which he potentially needs to improve — including one very specific mechanical enhancement from which Herbert and every other young quarterback who isn’t doing it would benefit. (Trust me, it works.)

There’s no guarantee that Herbert will become a franchise quarterback, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. That's enough to get him a spot in the Top-40 before he has ever officially stepped foot on an NFL field. 

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert immersing himself in Chargers playbook at minicamp

Here are some of the reasons to be optimistic. 

- The defense to back Herbert up: The Chargers return three Pro Bowl defensive players in 2020: Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III as well as safety Derwin James.

- The receiving weapons: Lining up on the outside of Herbert are eight-year veteran Keenan Allen and four-year veteran Mike Williams, both of which posted 1,000+ receiving yard seasons in 2019.

[RELATED]: Justin Herbert will be a Charger says 9-year-old Justin Herbert

It may be some time until we see Herbert’s NFL debut as a Charger, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the hype and potential surrounding the hometown hero from Eugene is most definitely present.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Sabrina Ionescu among top 10 of Yahoo! Sports athletes under 25

Sabrina Ionescu among top 10 of Yahoo! Sports athletes under 25

It is safe to say that Sabrina Ionescu is one of the most popular young sports figures in the world right now.

The 22-year-old has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time-- and to think, she hasn’t even started her professional career yet.

Ionescu is just months removed from finishing up her historic collegiate career and was drafted by the New York Liberty No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft.

Her accomplishments and clout have made her among the top athletes under 25 years of age.

The article ranked the 25 best athletes under 25, placing Ionescu at No. 6 ahead of famous young football and basketball stars like Christian McCaffrey, Saquan Barkley, and Ja Morant and Trae Young.

Cassandra Negley, a writer for Yahoo Sports, wrote about how impactful Ionescu will continue to be when she begins her career in the WNBA.

While she won’t be piling up triple-doubles like she did in college, and she won’t have the numbers that she did there, either, she will dazzle in a Liberty system built to allow her to shine. No. 1 draft picks typically go on to prolific professional careers and she will be no different.

The top-5 have not yet been revealed, but Ionescu is the highest-rated female in the field so far!

Ionescu has a lot of expectations to live up to, with finishing her collegiate career as the all-time leader in triple-doubles, as well as the first to ever score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and dish out 1,000 assists 

After being drafted by the New York Liberty as the first overall pick last month, she signed an endorsement deal with Nike.

Being in the top 10 of a stacked list of athletes is just another item on the list of that Ionescu continues to check off.

The future is bright for Ionescu, we will just have to wait and see what records she will break in the WNBA.

Be sure to get caught up with your favorite teams by downloading the latest podcast from NBCSNW.

Oregon Ducks among final four for 5-star, All-American WR Troy Franklin

Oregon Ducks among final four for 5-star, All-American WR Troy Franklin

One day closer to landing one of the top receiving recruits in the country.

On Tuesday, 2021 five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin has narrowed down his recruiting process down to four schools:

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound wideout from Menlo-Atherton High School in Menlo Park, California has also committed to the 2021 Adidas All-American Bowl, where the top 100 high school players have the opportunity to show off their talent on January 9, 2021.

He had visited Eugene on an unofficial visit on July 28, 2019.

The Ducks would have reason to be confident with Mario Cristobal leading the program which has resulted in securing the top commitment in California the past two recruiting cycles. Franklin currently ranks as California's fourth-best recruit and the 30th overall prospect in the nation. 

However, the inclusion of Arizona State means the Sun Devils may be more of a force to be reckoned with when it comes to recruiting battles, especially after they flipped prized Oregon verbal commit Johnny Wilson on Signing Day. 

2021 four-star linebacker Keith Brown, who has already committed to the Ducks, looks to be heavily recruiting Franklin to Eugene, Oregon.

The only other Ducks wide receiver commit for the class of 2021 is 6-foot-1, 200-pound Kyron Ware-Hudson a four-star receiver from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. These two would be quite the outside duo should Franklin also commit to the Ducks.

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.

Oregon Ducks lose out on 4-star CB Denzel Burke who commits to Ohio State

Oregon Ducks lose out on 4-star CB Denzel Burke who commits to Ohio State

A blue chip Oregon target has decided to attend college elsewhere.

2021 four-star defensive back Denzel Burke announced his commitment to Ohio State University Sunday afternoon via his Twitter. 

On May 12, Burke had announced that Oregon was among his top-five teams along with the Buckeyes, USC, Colorado, and Washington.

Via the 247Sports Composite rankings, Burke was the 183rd overall prospect in the country, seventh-best athlete, and fourth-best overall player in Arizona. Oregon has secured three of the five best players in Arizona this recruiting cycle by getting verbal commitments from OL Jonah Miller, QB Ty Thompson, and OT Bram Walden. 

[RELATED]: Oregon Ducks land 2021 four-star OL Jonah Miller

If the 6'0", 189 pound cornerback wasn't going to choose the Ducks the Buckeyes was the next best bet for Oregon as he will not be in the Pac-12 conference. They may match up on the field next season in Colombus, however, when the Ducks travel to play Ohio State on September 11, 2021. 

Additionally, verbal commitments are nonbinding so if Oregon can pull off the upset against Ohio State this season in Autzen Stadium then maybe Burke could reconsider, if that game happens.

[RELATED]: Could the Oregon vs. Ohio State series flip locations?

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Oregon Strength & Conditioning Coach Aaron Feld.