Oregon basketball

Former Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu to see specialist after suffering ankle injury

Former Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu to see specialist after suffering ankle injury

Sabrina Ionescu is officially leaving the Wubble. 

The Oregon superstar and New York Liberty No.1 pick will head back to the Big Apple to visit a foot and ankle specialist after suffering what was diagnosed as a Grade 3 ankle sprain against the Atlanta Dream on Friday. 

The Liberty confirmed the news Wednesday. 

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The injury occurred when Ionescu stepped on Betnijah Laney’s foot while bringing the ball up the court. The 22-year-old fell to the floor and had to be helped to the locker room. She was seen on crutches Sunday. 

[RELATED: Sabrina Ionescu helped off the court after ankle injury, X-rays negative]

By seeing a specialist outside the WNBA Bubble, Ionescu will be able to confirm the severity of the sprain. If it is indeed a Grade 3, the most serious type of ankle sprain, Ionescu’s rookie season is in jeopardy, considering the season is only 22 games long. A Grade 3 sprain can take several weeks to several months to heal. 

The injury certainly throws a wrench in the Ionescu’s ROY contention. After Ionescu shot just 4-of-17 from the field in her WNBA debut, she dropped 33 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in the Liberty’s 93-80 loss to the Dallas Wings. 

In her first three appearances, Ionescu was averaging 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists. 

The Liberty are currently 0-4 and in a rebuilding year with seven rookies on their 12-player roster. New York is not expected to make the postseason and will likely have six weeks remaining of their season.  

If or when Ionescu returns to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, she’ll have to undergo the required 4-7 day quarantine period, as outlined by the coronavirus health and safety protocols. She’ll also have more rounds of COVID-19 testing to follow upon her arrival.

[Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Josh Jamieson, Director of Operations of Oregon men’s basketball].

How Oregon MBB's Dana Altman became one of the most successful coaches in collegiate basketball

How Oregon MBB's Dana Altman became one of the most successful coaches in collegiate basketball

Dana Altman is on a very short list of successful coaches in men’s collegiate basketball.

The Oregon Duck men’s basketball head coach is part of an exclusive fraternity that includes Hall-of-Famers Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bill Self and Jim Boeheim and is one of only five active coaches in NCAA Division I with 23 consecutive winning seasons.

The 2013 National Jim Phelan Coach of the Year, 3x Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2013, 2015, 2016) and 2018 member of the Creighton Athletic Hall of Fame, has proven to the Pac-12 Conference that the Oregon Ducks will consistently be a challenge for any foe.

And ‘consistent’ is the perfect word to describe the 19th head coach in the history of the University of Oregon.

Director of Operations Josh Jamieson, who has been by Altman’s side for 14 seasons, is the latest guest on the Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent.

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

It boils down to consistency. We preach that, we’re trying to communicate that, but it really doesn’t work until you live it. I think coach [Altman] loves consistency. In practice, in film, in games, in his approach to things. — Josh Jamieson on Dana Altman

That approach has led the Ducks to deep NCAA tournament runs in the postseason.

He led Oregon to five straight NCAA Tournaments (2013-17) for the first time in school history, winning at least one game in each of those years. Included in those NCAA appearances are a Final Four (2017), two Elite Eights (2016, 2017) and three Sweet 16s (2013, 2016, 2017).

If you’ve ever watched an Oregon men’s basketball game, you can always see or hear Altman on the sidelines, stomping his black leather dress shoe on the court to get the attention of his players and always sporting a plain white, long sleeve button up, black slacks and either a green or yellow tie. His consistency is found in his wardrobe too. 

All that expression and fiery coaching is the complete opposite of what you’ll see in the postgame press conference. It’s as if someone slipped Altman a shot of NyQuil PM: he is calm and answers all questions from the media in a respectful, insightful and his voice is soft-spoken.

And the answers always fall back to, “We got a lot more work to do.”

If you look at a coach Altman press conference, a snapshot at virtually anytime of the year, you’re going to hear fairly similar things. You never hear him go over the top about a performance that we’ve had because he understands that these performances tend to average out over the long run. — Josh Jamieson on Dana Altman

It’s not that Altman doesn’t acknowledge the positives from his team’s performance, but he realizes that growth and success come from what improvements need to be made. It’s this mindset and coaching philosophy that make Oregon a dangerous threat year after year. 

Altman signed a three-year contract extension in 2019 that makes him the head coach in Eugene, Oregon through April 2026.

Jamieson’s duties as Director of Operations include scheduling, coordinating the team’s travel, budgeting, academic support and equipment oversight. He also serves as the Director of Oregon Basketball Camps.

Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast here.

Bol Bol ‘randomly’ drug tested after breakout first game with Denver Nuggets


Bol Bol ‘randomly’ drug tested after breakout first game with Denver Nuggets


The long-awaited NBA debut of Bol Bol came and took the social media world by storm on Wednesday night.

The 7-foot-2 (with a 7-foot-8 wingspan) former Oregon Duck center was selected in the second round (No. 44 overall) in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat but immediately traded that same night to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets took a chance on Bol in the draft because he was injured and sat out a majority of his one and only season at Oregon.

But the talent is hard to pass up and that’s what the Nuggets are banking on for the future in Denver.

Looks like Bol is proving them right too.

First, this video of Bol and Nuggets big (but definitely skinner) man Nikola Jokic at practice surfaced:

[RELATED]: Bol Bol's long awaited Denver Nuggets debut has ignited the internet

[Listen and download for free ‘Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football].

Then it was time to put that practice into play.

The Nuggets opened up their first scrimmage against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday ahead of the NBA’s restart on July 30. 

Bol finished his NBA debut with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in an 89-82 win over the Wizards. His performance included a little of what Duck fans saw in Eugene, Oregon:

But, it also caught the eyes of the NBA and thus warranted a “random” drug test? Really?

That reminds us, remember that one time Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was also “randomly” drug tested following Seattle's final game of the 2019 season at Green Bay?

Hmmmm…. Okay NBA. 

Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Duck and 8-year NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.

NBA Champion Jordan Bell signs new deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA Champion Jordan Bell signs new deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers

Former Oregon Duck Jordan Bell has had quite the rollercoaster career in the NBA thus far.

He is an NBA Champion (Golden State Warriors, 2018) and has already experienced an NBA Finals (twice). From the biggest stage to more recently, simply being a trade pawn for several teams, Bell has finally landed a new home. This time, for at least a few years.

On Monday, it was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that free agent Bell has signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

NBA JOURNEY

The 6-foot-8 forward/center was drafted in the second round (No. 38 overall) by the Chicago Bulls in the 2017 NBA Draft. His career with the Bulls franchise was over before it even began. That same night, Bell was traded to the Golden State Warriors for $3.5 million in cash considerations. 

His first year in the league ended in a championship with the Golden State Warriors in 2018. The next season, a banged up Warriors squad still made the NBA finals, but eventually lost to the Toronto Raptors. Bell played in 68 games that season with three starts and was sixth on the team in blocks per game (0.8).

Following the 2019 season, Bell signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Olympian Devon Allen].

Just before the NBA All-Star break in 2020, Bell was a part of a four-team trade sending him to the Houston Rockets. Less than 24 hours later, his career with the Rockets ended and he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he would join former Oregon teammate Dillon Brooks. The dynamic duo was back together once again, but only for a short time.

Bell was waived by the Grizzlies on March 2, 2020.

Three months of not calling an NBA team his home is finally over. 

The LeBron James era in Cleveland had concluded in 2018 and the rebuild began. Bell will now join Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Larry Nance Jr., Collin Sexton, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova amongst others in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers (19-46) finished last in the Eastern Conference standings this season and at the time of the NBA suspension and did not qualify for the NBA’s 22-team format to resume play in Orlando, Florida at the end of July.

Bell had the opportunity to learn from one of the best defenders in the league, Andre Iguodala as well as Draymond Green in Golden State. In Cleveland, another opportunity awaits with Drummond who leads the NBA in rebounds per game (15.2) and averages 1.6 blocks per game. For a team that needed to get better on the defensive end (ranked 23rd in team defense last season), Cleveland signing Drummond and now Bell just got better on that end of the court. 

OREGON CAREER

Bell was a complete menace defensively at Oregon. The duo of Bell and Chris Boucher (now with the Toronto Raptors) hosted a block party each game and invited everyone on the opposing team. He posted career highs of 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds to go with 2.3 blocks (second in the Pac-12 conference) as a junior in 2016-17, earning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

In case you forgot, #ThingsJordanBellCanBlock once trended on Twitter.

The Ducks made a Final Four appearance in 2016 before losing to the eventual national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.

Be sure to download and listen for free Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

St. Johns guard LJ Figueroa set to transfer to the Oregon Ducks

St. Johns guard LJ Figueroa set to transfer to the Oregon Ducks

As per usual for the Oregon Ducks men's basketball program, the offseason is for reloading.

The latest new addition to the Men of Oregon is St. Johns guard LJ Figueroa who will have one year of eligibility remaining after playing three seasons on the East Coast.

"First and foremost, I want to thank St. Johns for the last two seasons; it was an incredible time both personally and athletically," wrote Figueroa in his announcement. "I've truly enjoyed NYC, the fans, the atmosphere, and most importantly my teammates. In addition, I want to thank Coach Mullin for recruiting me and Coach Anderson for this past season. Unfortunately, circumstances which were out of my control, forced me to transfer and look for a new opportunity. 

"I'm looking forward to joining the University of Oregon and competing for a National Championship. Go Ducks!"

[Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Oregon men's basketball head coach Ernie Kent].

To play in 2020-21, he would need the NCAA to accept his waiver for immediate eligibility, or else he will need to sit out a season and play in 2021-22. Per Zach Braziller of the New York Post, schools in contact with Figueroa were saying he could get immediate eligibility if he transferred "based on the coronavirus' impact" in New York City.

Figueroa, a top-100 recruit in 2017, signed with New Mexico State but never played a minute for the Aggies instead opting to transfer to St. Johns where he was one of the best scorers in the Big East. As a sophomore, Figueroa averaged 14.4 points per game shooting 51.3% from the field and 38.3% from three while serving as a role player. Then, as the Red Storm's primary option last season, he averaged 14.5 points per game on 37.9% from the field and 36.5% from three.

At Oregon, he won't be asked to be "the guy" but rather play his role as a deadly 6'6" shooter from the wing which he should excel at. Think of him stepping up into the Anthony Mathis role from last season. 

If the NCAA grants him immediate eligibility, the Ducks should have one of the nation's best backcourts with Figueroa, Chris Duarte, Will Richardson, four-star transfer guard Amauri Hardy and four-star incoming freshman Jalen Terry, the nation's seventh-ranked point guard in the 2020 class

Download and listen for free to Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

Payton Pritchard remains in dunking shape despite quarantine

Payton Pritchard remains in dunking shape despite quarantine

Payton Pritchard is known to have insane handles on the court. It was evident in a video that he posted back in March where he demonstrated just how lightning fast he can dribble.

On Tuesday, Pritchard posted another video and one that features a different part of his game that is particularly well known to everyone.

Wait a minute… a dunk with his off hand? This looks all too familiar…. (2019 Pac-12 Championship game vs. Washington in Las Vegas, Nevada).

[Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Paul Swangard, the voice of Hayward Field]

Pritchard, like the rest of the players who have entered the NBA draft, is navigating through uncharted waters during this pandemic trying to balance working out, working on his game, staying healthy and staying safe. 

The NBA announced on June 4 that the 2020 NBA Draft will held on October 15, 2020.

[RELATED]: NBA playoffs, Finals dates revealed and other key dates

The West Linn, Portland, Oregon-native rounded out a successful four-year campaign at Oregon with winning the Pac-12 Player of the Year, Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year and Lute Olson Player of the Year awards. He is the first player in Pac-12 history to have 1,900 career points, 500 career rebounds and 600 career assists.

According to NBA Scouting Live, Pritchard is a projected late second round draft pick.

Be sure to check out Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

Sabrina Ionescu has her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Sabrina Ionescu has her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021

Sabrina Ionescu has always dreamed of playing in the Olympics.

Since she was a young girl, Ionescu says she’s loved seeing which players land on the Olympic team rosters and watched with a curious eye as games unfolded.

Now, the WNBA's No. 1 overall pick might actually have a chance at competing in the Tokyo Games in 2021.

“I hope so,” Ionescu told Ernie Johnson on the NBA’s Twitter Live on Wednesday. “I’m doing everything I can to be ready for that and get ready for that. Obviously, it’s not really up to me at this point as long as I’m performing and doing everything that I can.”

The former Oregon star missed key U.S. Women’s National Team activities last fall and winter, as they occurred during her time with the Ducks. However, she competed in the 3x3 in 2018, clinching gold in her second tournament alongside Oregon teammates Erin Boley, Oti Gildon and Ruthy Hebard.

At the 2019 Pan American Games, Ionescu told the Olympic Channel she preferred the 3x3 to the 5x5 if she had to choose.

Now that Ionescu has an extra year until the Olympics and a year competing against the WNBA’s top talent, she could be available for more national team activities this upcoming fall and winter.

Ionescu could contend for a roster spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021, either on the full national team or the 3x3 version. 3x3 basketball will make its debut in 2021.

It would be an honor to represent my country in the Olympics. Obviously with a year, now being pushed back now, I’ll just be able to prepare myself at an even higher level playing against the top players in the country.” - Sabrina Ionescu

Ionescu has already played on a number of U.S. national teams since she was a teenager. She was part of the 2017 U23 team that won an inaugural U24 Four Nations Tournament Title. In 2014, Ionescu was also on a U17 World Cup Team that went undefeated and took home the gold in Pilsen, Czech Republic. 

Listen to Geoff Schwartz on the latest episode of the Talkin' Ducks podcast here.

Oregon basketball to return to Maui Invitational Tournament for a third time 

Oregon basketball to return to Maui Invitational Tournament for a third time 

The Oregon men’s basketball team is headed to Hawaii in 2021.

The Ducks were one of eight teams announced to play in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational next year for the 38th annual tournament. 

The tournament field includes Butler, Chaminade, Houston, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Texas A&M, and Wisconsin. Seven of the eight teams in the 2021 group will be making a return appearance to Maui. Notre Dame is the only school to claim a Maui Jim Maui Invitational championship, doing so in 2017. 

The Ducks last participated in the bracket-style tournament in 2008 and 2016. In 2008, Oregon topped Alabama 92-69 in the first round, before falling to eventual tournament champions, North Carolina, 98-69 in the semifinals. 

In their second appearance, a Dana Altman led Oregon came away with an overtime win over Tennessee in the third-place game. They finished fifth overall after beating Connecticut 79-69. 

Like previous years, the tournament will take place at the historic Lahaina Civic Center. The 2021 Maui Invitational Tournament will take place November 22-24.  

Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.

Oregon MBB signs Mr. Michigan finalist, four-star guard Jalen Terry

Oregon MBB signs Mr. Michigan finalist, four-star guard Jalen Terry

One of the nation’s top point guards is headed to Eugene, Oregon.

Jalen Terry, a 5-foot-11 guard from Flint, Michigan, averaged 20.4 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game to lead Beecher High School (Mount Morris, Michigan) to a 20-2 record in 2019-20.

Terry signed with the Ducks after several offers including Michigan State, Louisville, Iowa State and LSU. He narrowed down his decision to Oregon, Louisville and LSU on December 19, 2019.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman made the announcement on Monday:

During the recruiting process, our staff was able to get to know Jalen and his family very well. He is excited to be a Duck and our fans are going to enjoy watching him play. His quickness and explosiveness will give our team an added dimension. — Oregon head coach Dana Altman on Jalen Terry

The two-time Associated Press Division 3 Player of the Year for the state of Michigan was the second-highest rated recruit in Michigan this year. Terry is ranked the No. 57 player nationally, by Rivals and 247Sports and the No. 10 point guard nationally. 

The Ducks will look to replace four-year starting point guard Payton Pritchard in next year’s lineup. Junior Will Richardson will be the likely starter, with his experience and talent, but there is room for competition. Oregon recently signed transfer guard Aaron Estrada as well as four-star transfer guard Amauri Hardy.

Not to mention returners Addison Patterson, Luke Osborn, Eddy Ionescu and Will Johnson.

Don’t let Terry's size fool you. The kid can dunk.

Oregon center Francis Okoro enters NCAA transfer portal

Oregon center Francis Okoro enters NCAA transfer portal

Oregon men’s basketball big man Francis Okoro has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer portal. 

https://twitter.com/chibestfrank88/status/1251292153805975552

The 6-foot-9 sophomore forward from Imo, Nigeria will take his two remaining years of collegiate eligibility away from Eugene, Oregon.

First reported by James Crepea and The Oregonian.

Be sure to listen to the latest Talkin' Ducks Podcast with host Jordan Kent and special guest former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck:

Okoro’s two seasons at Oregon were up-and-down, to say the least. He sparked as a freshman, earning valuable minutes and was poised to make a memorable career in an Oregon uniform.

During Oregon’s deep NCAA Tournament run last season that ended in a Sweet 16 matchup to the eventual national champions Virgina Cavaliers, Okoro stepped up vocally despite being just a freshman, encouraging his teammates and being the unexpected leader the Ducks needed.

His sophomore season took a hit, quite literally. Okoro suffered an offseason injury and then was hit by a car early in the season. In December, Okoro’s father had passed away.

Okoro averaged 3.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last year.

It was a tough year both physically and mentally.

HOW THIS IMPACTS NEXT SEASON FOR THE DUCKS:

The Ducks return a plentiful of young talent at the forward position:

6-foot-11 sophomore center N’Faly Dante

6-foot-8 sophomore forward Chandler Lawson

6-foot-8 sophomore forward C.J. Walker

6-foot-8 sophomore forward Lok Wur

6-foot-6 senior forward Eric Williams Jr.