Oregon Ducks

Takeaways from Oregon football Hillsboro scrimmage: changed physiques, freshmen highlights and Duck “celebrities”

Takeaways from Oregon football Hillsboro scrimmage: changed physiques, freshmen highlights and Duck “celebrities”

Oregon football loaded up the buses for a rainy drive from Eugene to Hillsboro Stadium for a half practice, half traditional 11-on-11 scrimmage in front of over 2,000 die-hard Duck fans who spent their Saturday with former Duck Marcus Mariota.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Mariota and former Duck Ifo Ekpre-Olomu supported the team from the sidelines while Oregon fans craned to get their first peek at the nation’s top recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux, among others.

It’s been four months since Oregon beat Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl and some players definitely hit the winter strength and conditioning program (Coach Cristobal calls it the "Fourth Quarter" offseason program) hard. Some of the biggest physical changes I noticed was to the offensive linemen; particularly senior Shane Lemieux and senior Jake Hanson who seem to have toned up and added lower body strength. Junior nose guard Jordon Scott, who started all 13 games last season, definitely has slimmed down. Junior tight end Cam McCormick, won the starting job last August but was injured in the season opener, appears to be 100 percent physically ready and a force to be reckoned with.

Of course it was all eyes on the newcomers, 10 early-enrollee freshmen in Oregon’s highest-ever rated recruiting class.

It was my first look at Thibodeaux, who is not your typical 18 year old. The freshman was on the first-team and is poised to make an impact this season. Freshmen wide receivers Josh Delgado and Mycah Pittman participated in returning punts with Brenden Schooler and Travis Dye. Tight end Patrick Herbert provided a highlight of the day; a touchdown catch in a one-on-one drill.

Not a freshman, but still a highlight was Penn State graduate transfer Juwan Johnson, who literally stood out among the wide receivers at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He made some terrific catches from redshirt-freshman quarterback Tyler Shough. Shough, who did not attempt a pass last season, seems to have secured the back-up quarterback position and made some excellent passes.

The longest touchdown of the 11-on-11 scrimmage came via quarterback Justin Herbert to Darrian Felix for 50-yards that brought Oregon fans to their feet.

The Ducks have six more spring practices remaining before they host the spring game at Autzen Stadium on April 20.

Concerns surround Oregon forward Kenny Wooten’s NBA readiness

Concerns surround Oregon forward Kenny Wooten’s NBA readiness

The 2019-20 Oregon men’s basketball roster is currently looking pretty sparse. The Ducks team that pulled off an inspired late season run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 has largely dispersed.

Two seniors moved on, three players left the program for the NBA Draft and two Ducks have transferred.

The latest Duck to fly away? Shot-blocking phenom, Kenny Wooten.

On Sunday night, Wooten took to Instagram to announce he will forgo his junior season and stay in the NBA Draft.

Wooten’s decision is an interesting one and of course he could still change his mind, ultimately he has until May 29 to declare for the NBA Draft or return to Oregon.

The 6-foot-9 rim protector’s athleticism is undeniable. In his two seasons at UO, Wooten ranks third all-time in Oregon history for blocked shots with 166, earning back-to-back All-Pac-12 Defensive team honors. His defensive contributions late in the 2018-19 season propelled Oregon’s push to win the Pac-12 Tournament and dance to the Sweet 16.


So is he trying to strike while the iron is hot? Wooten has not returned a message seeking comment and the school has not confirmed a final decision from Wooten.

NBC Sports NBA Draft Analyst Rob Dauster would advise Wooten to return to school. 

“The concern I have is two-fold,” Dauster said. “For starters, if he’s not catching and dunking, he really can’t do anything offensively. He had 33 assists in 70 college games. That’s fine when you’re Clint Capela, but - and I don’t have official measurements for him yet - Wooten is roughly three inches shorter or so.”

“The other question is if he’s going to end up being as defensively versatile as someone like Jordan Bell. You watch what Jordan does in this Golden State defense, and he’s switching and trapping and swarming and all over the place on the perimeter in addition to being the athlete/dunker/shot-blocker. I don’t know if Wooten can do all of that. I think he’s far less mobile and fleet a foot.”

Wooten was not invited to the NBA Combine and isn’t on ESPN’s board for the top 100 players for this year’s NBA Draft.

Of course, Wooten can develop and improve his weaknesses at the professional level, but it appears that would likely happen in the NBA G League or as a two-way player.

“He is 21 already, so if he wants to start earning money, I get it, I just think that coming back, adding some semblance of an offensive repertoire and improving on where he struggles defensively could get him to a point where he could get a guaranteed contract in next year’s draft,” Dauster said.

“But, frankly, that isn’t a guarantee either.”

Since the exodus of Ducks from the program, Oregon has yet to add a player eligible to play this season. UO has only three players from last year’s team (if senior Payton Pritchard comes back) with a total of six eligible scholarship players (Duquesne transfer Eric Williams must sit this year).

I don’t doubt coach Dana Altman, who has become a wizard at piecing rosters together in crunch time. However, if Wooten changes his mind and has a consistent junior season exemplifying offensive growth and defensive versatility… It’d be beneficial for Oregon and likely Wooten’s draft stock.

Pac-12 CEOs vote to improve non-conference basketball schedules, lessen transfer penalties within conference

Pac-12 CEOs vote to improve non-conference basketball schedules, lessen transfer penalties within conference

Interesting news is emerging from the Pac-12 Conference CEOs' annual spring meeting in San Francisco. Presidents and chancellors met and voted on a variety of topics, the two biggest changes approved are;

1) Raising standards for non-conference basketball schedules.

Beginning in the 2020-21 season, November and December will have far less cupcake games. Men’s basketball non-conference opponents will now need to have a five-year average NET ranking of at least 175 for home games and 200 or better for road games, up from the Pac-12′s previous standard for non-conference opponents of a five-year average of 300 RPI.

The move will have impact on power rankings and the NCAA Tournament selection process. Pac-12 teams received little benefit from victories over opponents in the bottom half of Division I, while losses severely hurt the team’s resume.

Under this rule, Oregon wouldn’t have played Portland State and Florida A&M. Oregon State wouldn’t have played Central Connecticut State or UC-Riverside.

2) Eliminating “loss of season” of eligibility for undergraduate transfers who transfer within the conference.

The CEO group voted to eliminate the “loss of a season" of eligibility penalty for all student-athletes who transfer within the Pac-12. This means undergraduate intra-conference transfers still have to sit out a year in residency, but won’t lose a year of eligibility.

According to the Pac-12, “The rule is designed to provide student-athletes with a similar experience to another student who decides to transfer.”

Former Oregon Duck Keanon Lowe the Parkrose High School hero

usatsi_8097974.jpg
usa today img.

Former Oregon Duck Keanon Lowe the Parkrose High School hero

Friday, May 17th 2019 will be a day that will change the lives of the students and faculty at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon. 

What could have gone down as another school shooting in the United States, became a heroic local story as the threat was stopped just short thanks to former Oregon football wide receiver Keanon Lowe.

Lowe, who was named the Parkrose high school head football coach back in February 2018, saw the suspect carrying a gun and tackled that person before what was intended to happen, happened. 

Parkrose is home to just shy of 1,000 students. 

Lowe's former teammates says his act of heroism comes at no surprise as the type of person he is:

Thank you, Keanon Lowe.

 

Former Duck Jordan Bell shines in the spotlight

Former Duck Jordan Bell shines in the spotlight

Jordan Bell. It's a name known well in the Pacific Northwest. After Thursday's performance in the Western Conference Finals, it's also a name well known in the city of Oakland, San Francisco Bay, and the entire NBA. 

The second-year big man out of the University of Oregon has had his ups and downs with Golden State. He has been in and out of the rotation over the last two seasons, has had his maturity questioned, and has had to rebuild the team's confidence in him. 

He's had verbal spats with teammates and coaches, and in March of this season, Bell was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." It was later reported that he made purchases at a team hotel and had them charged to assistant coach Mike Brown without his permission.

At the time, it almost felt like the end of the rope for Bell's career: A "here we go again" moment for the Warriors and their young forward. But instead of rolling over, Bell took it on the chin and bounced back. Despite spot minutes and DNPs, he continued to focus on his game. Not just his basketball game, but his mental game. 

"I think he's evolved mostly mentally... You know, he's gotten more intelligent," teammate Draymond Green after the Warriors Game 2 victory. "I think all those things are great but more important than all of that, his mental. His professionalism. I think that's where he's grown the most and I think right now, that's paying off for him the most."

All the hard work culminated in a breakout playoff performance against the Blazers on Thursday. Bell played just 14 minutes, but his impact was large. He scored 11 points, pulled down three rebounds, and added two steals, a block, and an assist for the two-time defending champs. He stuffed the stat sheet, helping the Warriors seal the deal with a come from behind victory. 

“Jordan did a really good job for us tonight with his energy," Andre Iguodala said of Bell. 

[He] is one of those guys who has got that energy. He thrives off the spotlight. He enjoys being in those moments and people are watching him. He takes advantage of that.

A lot of Blazers fans know exactly what Iguodala means. Fans in Oregon have been watching Bell come up big ever since he stepped on the court for the Ducks in 2014. His junior year, he helped lead to the Ducks to an appearance in the Final Four, where he had a 13 points, 16 rebounds and a four block performance in the Ducks' loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

It was the biggest stage in college basketball, and Bell basked in the spotlight. Now on the biggest stage in the NBA, Bell has found a way to do it again. 

"It's a good series for him. It's a good matchup. The way we're playing suits him," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "We need a lot of speed out there. I think the last three games, Game 6 in Houston and the first two games here, he's kind of settled down and he's been very comfortable. Very relaxed. He's not in a rush and he's playing good basketball, so he will continue to get minutes."

If Bell continues to get minutes, he could be a problem for the Blazers as the series shifts to Portland. The second-year player blocks shots, gets rebounds and does the little things the Warriors need from their bench unit to bury the Blazers. 

How does Bell go about making sure he gets those minutes? According to Green, it goes back to his maturity.

"It's not like he's out there taking seven mid-range jump shots. He's just playing hard," Green said. "It's the staying ready, being in the gym nonstop, even when you're not playing for 10 games straight, staying in the gym, being there early and getting the work in.

"That's what's paying off for him now."  

It's paying off in key playoff minutes, clutch playoff performances, and most of all, it's paying off with a heightened state of confidence from his teammates.

"When his number gets called, he's either going to be ready or not," Green said. "We have confidence in Jordan because we know how it's been going in the gym all year long."

More than the confidence of his teammates, getting the call has boosted Bell's confidence in himself.

When you’re playing, that’s the most confidence right there. Just experience. I was lacking on that...When the coach calls your name in Game 6 against Houston at their place, and a game where we can possibly end it there, it gives you a lot of confidence going into the (next) series.”

Do the Warriors need Bell to win their third-straight title? Probably not. Does it hurt the cause when Bell is playing with confidence and shines on the big stage? Absolutely not.

Bell has a large fan base rooting for him and it's not just rooted in Oakland.  Up north in enemy territory, the Ducks fanbase is cheering hard. Not for Warriors wins, but for their former star.

Oregon football; Defensive Back University?

Oregon football; Defensive Back University?

Oregon football, also known as; Nike University, Running Back University and Defensive Back University?

The Ducks’ highest-rated recruiting class in program history received another major addition; the highest-rated defensive back commitment in program history, Chris Steele.

Steele, the nation’s No. 3 cornerback and No. 19 overall prospect in the class of 2019, transferred from Florida after spring football.

According to the Gainesville Sun, in late January, Steele asked the Florida coaching staff for new roommate assignment, away from quarterback Jalon Jones, expressing concerns about Jones' behavior. In April, Jones was accused of sexual battery by two Florida students. The Florida Staff declined to act and postponed his request until summer and Steele decided to enter the transfer portal.

The 6-foot, 175-pound athlete, out of St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, California) returned to the west coast via Oregon.

"Coach Donte. Our relationship is known." Steele told 247sports of Oregon coach Donte Williams. "Me and that dude, he’s like a big brother to me. The opportunity to play for somebody who is going to care about me off the field but at the same time is going to develop me better than other people, it’s a win-win situation." 

Had Steele signed with Oregon before National Signing Day, the Ducks’ 2019 class would have been ranked at No. 5 overall, their first top five finish ever. Oregon finished No. 7 without the signing of Steele. 

A few notes on what adding another five-star piece means…

Can Steele play next season?

Steele enrolled at Florida, so it's unclear if he will be eligible for the 2019 season, but he can apply for a waiver to play immediately.

Oregon’s 2019 secondary is locked and loaded with talent.

Juniors Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir have depth and talent behind them. If Steele is granted a waiver to play immediately, Oregon will have two star freshmen cornerbacks in Steele and Mykael Wright, plus redshirt freshman safety Steve Stephens. The pair of safeties, Nick Pickett and Jevon Holland, will also return. 

Lenoir often tweets "TMC," which stands for "The Marathon Continues." It's a reference to the sixth official mixtape by American rapper Nipsey Hussle, but it means something more to the Ducks secondary. "This journey has only begun to become the best secondary," said Lenoir. "It's a marathon not a race. We will prove a lot this year."

The #CaliFlock is real.

The Ducks scored three of the top six ranked players in the state of California in the 2019 class. All three are defensive players; including Steele (No. 5), Wright (No. 4) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 1). A total of seven of California’s top 21 2019 prospects are at Oregon.

The veterans are hyped.

When Steele transferred from Florida, a few Gator wide receivers tweeted pictures of themselves making catches over Steele. When Steele joined the Ducks, he was met with a different feeling on Twitter from Oregon football.

The ripple effect.

Now the defensive backs are rolling in. Four-star safety Jared Greenfield (class of 2020) has included Oregon in his final five. The coveted 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back out of Narbonne High School (Harbor City, California), is expected to having Oregon as his heavy favorite.

Bol Bol’s mind-boggling measurements at NBA Combine

Bol Bol’s mind-boggling measurements at NBA Combine

Oregon star Bol Bol is regaining some attention he lost after not playing since December due to a season-ending foot injury.

It’s easy to see why Bol is one of the most intriguing players in the 2019 NBA Draft; the center officially measured in at 7-foot-2 and 1/4 inches with his shoes on and recorded having a 7-foot-7 wingspan and a 9-foot-7 and 1/2 inch standing reach (WHOA!) at the NBA Combine.

Once drafted, Bol will be the third tallest active player behind 76ers center Boban 

Marjanovic (7'3 1/2") and Mavericks' Kristaps Porzingis (7'3). His standing reach is half an inch short from tying the NBA Combine record of 9-foot-8.
Bol’s height and standing reach weren’t the only eye-catching numbers he posted at the NBA Combine. Bol weighed in 208 pounds, the same weight as Duke’s 6'8 Cam Reddish. He also was listed at 7.1 percent body fat, the highest percentage measured so far.

On the 2018-19 Oregon basketball roster, Bol was listed as 235 pounds before his season ending foot injury. It’s highly possible Oregon rounded up on his weight, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that the 18-year-old has dropped almost 30 pounds. However, NBA teams will want to see him get stronger and put on more weight.

Bol has not been cleared and will not compete in the testing events at the combine. On Tuesday, he told TNT that he was three weeks away from being cleared fully.

Will he be a lottery selection or has his draft stock slipped? Here is where mock drafts predict Bol will be selected in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The highest-rated basketball player to ever sign with Oregon seemed to have come and gone in a blink of an eye. A former five-star recruit, in his nine games with the Ducks he led the team in points (21.0 per game), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.7) while showing off his terrific outside shooting (52 percent from three).

Bol Bol a lottery selection? Latest NBA mock drafts for Oregon Ducks

Bol Bol a lottery selection? Latest NBA mock drafts for Oregon Ducks

The ping pong balls have landed! The New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise winners of the NBA draft lottery and first chance at Duke star Zion Williamson. Now that the lottery results are final, let’s take a look at landing spots for potential Pro Ducks.

BOL BOL: The highest-rated basketball player to ever sign with Oregon who seemed to have come and gone in a blink of an eye.

It’s easy to see why Bol is one of the most intriguing players in the 2019 NBA Draft: 7-foot 2 centers with 7-foot-8 wingspans and terrific outside shooting (52 percent from three) don’t come along often. In his nine games with the Ducks, he led the team in points (21.0 per game), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.7).

[READ: Bol Bol, worth the gamble?]

Did he display enough of his immense potential before the season-ending injury to wipe away the red flag durability concerns? Will the 7-foot-2 center be a lottery selection or has his draft stock slipped? The consensus among mock drafts is that he will be a first round draft pick.

8th pick: Atlanta Hawks select Oregon center Bol Bol (Bleacher Report)

17th pick: Brooklyn Nets select Oregon center Bol Bol (SB Nation)

10th pick: Atlanta Hawks (from Dallas Mavericks) select Oregon center Bol Bol (NY Post)

17th pick: Brooklyn Nets select Oregon center Bol Bol (Sports Illustrated)

22nd pick: Boston Celtics select Oregon center Bol Bol (NBC Sports)

LOUIS KING: The 6-foot-9 forward’s draft stock certainly climbed through Oregon’s run in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments after scoring in double-figures in each game and being named to the Pac-12 All-Tournament team. But how far?

[READ: Oregon Ducks won't rule the basketball world without its King]

The five-star recruit has been listed as the No. 36 prospect in the draft by ESPN. Most mock drafts are first round only and do not have King listed, the consensus is that he will be selected in the second round.

38th pick: Chicago Bulls (from Memphis Grizzlies) select Oregon forward Louis King (Sports Illustrated)

30th pick: Milwaukee Bucks select Oregon forward Louis King (Mass Live)

Bol and King are among 66 players invited to this year’s NBA Combine, held May 16-17 (Noon-4 p.m. PT, ESPN2) at Quest Multisport in Chicago. Interestingly, King has decided not to work out in the five-on-five games and the combine.

Neither Payton Pritchard or Kenny Wooten (who also declared for the NBA draft and testing the waters) are currently listed as a potential draft pick on any mock draft I could find. Most likely, it'll be all eyes on Bol and King. 

The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft and return to school is June 10.

[READ: Big decision time: Four Oregon Ducks enter NBA draft]

Oregon football vs. Auburn set for prime time

Oregon football vs. Auburn set for prime time

There are only 108 days until Oregon football kicks off the 2019 season against Auburn on August 31, 2019! The following is from the Oregon Athletic Department:

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon’s marquee season opener against SEC foe Auburn in the 2019 AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will kick off ABC Saturday Night Football’s 14th season it was announced on Wednesday morning. The game will begin at 4:30 p.m. PT.

It will be the second meeting between the two programs and the first since the 2010 national championship game. The Ducks have not opened a season away from Autzen Stadium since 2011 when they took on LSU at AT&T Stadium.

Highlighted by Heisman hopeful quarterback Justin Herbert, Oregon returns a combined 17 positional starters, which ranks tied for fourth nationally, from the 2018 club that produced a 9-4 season under first-year head coach Mario Cristobal that was capped with three consecutive wins, including a victory over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl. The Ducks will also usher in a consensus top 10 recruiting class.

Both Oregon and Auburn were mainstays in 2019 preseason top 25 rankings distributed right after last season. Oregon found itself as high as No. 10 in the ESPN ranking. If the Ducks land in a preseason poll, it will mark the 10th time in 11 seasons that they have opened the season ranked.

The game will also be Oregon’s first against an SEC opponent since it defeated Tennessee, 59-14, at Autzen Stadium during the 2013 season.

Current and former Oregon Ducks divulge hot takes on Blazers-Warriors

Current and former Oregon Ducks divulge hot takes on Blazers-Warriors

This is where Rip City and Oregon Football collide. Everybody has an opinion when it comes to the Western Conference Finals (including me: Blazers in seven). Some of these Ducks have ties to Portland, some to Oakland, but all have predictions!

JOEY HARRINGTON (Born and raised in Portland, 1998-2001 Oregon Duck, 2002-08 NFL)

Prediction: Blazers in six

Reasoning: Golden State is playing a different style without Kevin Durant, I think they are a better TEAM and they share the ball better without him on the court. The Warriors are the better team but they haven’t played this style in awhile. I think while Durant’s out they will be vulnerable and the Blazers can steal one in Oakland. IF Blazers get one in Oakland and IF Damian Lilliard shoots the ball similar to how he did in the first round vs. OKC, Blazers in six! If Lillard doesn’t, than Golden State in six. 

LAMICHAEL JAMES (2009-11 Oregon Duck, 2012-15 NFL)

Prediction: Blazers in six

Reasoning: With no Kevin Durant or DeMarcus Cousins... I like the way the Blazers play basketball as a team, you can tell they have good chemistry and no one cares who get the points. It’s just about who wins, that’s huge to me, that’s why I’m a Lillard and McCollum fan- they’re unselfish and it’s about the team. 

DEFOREST BUCKNER (2012-15 Oregon Duck, 2016-current San Francisco 49er)

PREDICTION: Blazers in seven

Reasoning: Because I been a fan of Damian Lillard since I was at Oregon, also they’ve been playing really good especially CJ McCollum! And honestly I just want a change up in the Finals this year. The Warriors are a great team, but I really think the Blazers can compete with them and pull it out in 7!

CYRUS HABIBI-LIKIO (Born and raised in the Bay Area, current Oregon Duck)

Prediction: Warriors in six

Reasoning: I am from the Golden State and grew up going to their games since I was young. I say Portland wins two and we take the rest. But I do think a title in Portland would be so good for you guys and this state so I really don’t mind who wins. I just don’t want to hear it from everyone here if the Blazers win.

TYRELL CROSBY (2014-17 Oregon Duck, 2018- Current NFL)

Prediction: Blazers in six

Reasoning: Throwing me in a predicament! I’m a Blazers fan but I want to see (former Oregon Duck) Jordan Bell ball out.

JAKE FISHER (2011-14 Oregon Duck, 2015- Current NFL)

Prediction: Blazers in seven

Reasoning: Love the underdog fight in the Blazers. Mindset is everything in the playoffs. Everyone counted them out already which has sparked a different energy. They are hot and they play team ball. They match up well against the Warriors without Kevin Durant, I think it only increases the odds in their favor!

JORDON SCOTT (Current Oregon Duck)

Prediction: Blazers in seven

Reasoning: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will go for 50 combined every game and they’ll win.

JUWAN JOHNSON(Current Oregon Duck)

Prediction: Warriors in six

Reasonin: Warriors have too much depth to lose against Portland.

SHANE LEMIEUX (Current Oregon Duck)

Prediction: Warriors in seven

Reasoning: Portland has a ton more heart than the Warriors but ultimately the skill on the Warriors will end up winning the series for them.

TYSON COLEMAN (Born and raised in Portland, 2011-15 Oregon Duck)

Prediction: Warriors in six

Reasoning: I want the Blazers though. I think the Blazers might get the first two with Kevin Durant out but once he is back they have tooooo much horsepower. It’s like the Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas, Josh Huff combo with Golden State. Lol, I had to add a little Duck flare.

ISAIAH PITRE(Current Oregon Duck, Oakland native)

Prediction: Warriors in five

Reasoning: Because people seem to think that because Kevin Durant is out that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson can't win...Splash Brothers won two championships without him.

MJ CUNNINGHAM (Current Oregon Duck, Portland native)

Prediction: Blazers in seven

Reasoning: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum always find a way to get it done. Also he is an alum of the Team Lillard premier 7on7 team