Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey face a major dilemma. The three best players on the 2016-17 Duck roster could enter the NBA Draft and forego their UO careers prematurely. However, what if they stayed?
Almost 48 hours removed from the Final Four debacle, we are still in mourning. It is tough to get past such a difficult ending to a historic season. Yet, we can not overlook the fact that Oregon arguably played their worst game of the season and still almost beat the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels.
Coaches would rather lose by 100 points than a single tally and I don’t blame them. With a 1-point loss, you can't help but review every negative play in the game. If this, if that, our team would have won. Regardless, the future is bright in Eugene. It could be “glimmering” if the proverbial ball bounces in Oregon’s favor this week.
Of course, all three have the talent and desire to make a career of basketball. If the rest of the nation did not know these Ducks before March, they certainly do now.
The 2017 Pac-12 Player of the Year could sway the other two with his choice. Brooks is viewed as the best UO NBA prospect, yet Bell made an unprecedented run in March that could have positioned him ahead of the Canadian.
Additionally, Dorsey ended his sophomore campaign with eight straight games of 20 points or more, including being nicknamed “Mr. March” by his teammates. His NBA stock has skyrocketed over the last 30 days.
Regardless of who we think is the best NBA player of the trifecta, the fact is the talent is there for all of them to succeed at the next level. The big question is when?
As you witnessed firsthand with North Carolina last year, that team stuck together to finish their unfinished business from 2016. An underclass-led unit lost the national title on the final buzzer-beating shot of the game, 77-74, to Villanova. Most of the same team from last year stuck around to finish what they started.
This season, UNC was a team led by upperclassmen who were focused on winning a national championship. I still think Oregon was and is the better team. However, it truly illustrates that these types of events occur when a team ends their season on a sour note, but still believe in one another. Oregon is the same type of prideful team.
Brooks and Bell are highly emotional people with overwhelming pride in what they do. I know personally, this game left a bad taste in their collective mouth. It could be just what the doctor ordered for a 2017-18 National Championship run.
We all know the future of Oregon basketball is going to be special. The No. 8 recruiting class in the nation is set to take flight next season. Led by 5-star commit Troy Brown Jr., the Ducks finalized their greatest signing day in program history with Victory Bailey Jr. and Abu Kigab.
If one of the “Big 3” do indeed head for greener pastures in professional basketball, then the No. 6 overall prospect Brandon McCoy will commit to Oregon. If all three decide to stay, McCoy will take his talent to East Lansing, Michigan to join Tom Izzo.
With all 13 scholarships for next year being used by Oregon, they must make room on the current roster for the undecided recruit. Someone must leave for anyone else to be added to the 2017-18 roster.
Then again, Dana Altman can always ask Roman Sorkin to play as a “walk on” for his senior year. Just joking, maybe.
Nevertheless, Oregon basketball is ONLY getting stronger. You can bet on that. There is an entire generation growing up right now that is embracing the Duck culture. Oregon is the “cool” school for high school prospects and it is being illustrated with the new recruiting numbers.
The 2015-16 Elite Eight run set the foundation for an incredible future. Yet, it was this current Final Four appearance that has opened the eyes of the world. Oregon basketball will continue to elevate their talent each season, competing with the likes of Duke, UNC, Kansas and Kentucky for the best players on the planet.
This is not the end of an era at Oregon, but the beginning of an elite brand in college basketball. The Duck talent factory could see all three stars leave for the NBA, yet Oregon would NOT be in rebuilding mode. The 2017-18 team could be better than this one, but I don’t want to disrespect the work of my favorite Duck team of all-time.
No matter how good Oregon basketball becomes down the road, we will never forget the foundation built by Dana Altman and this 2016-17 team. This was the greatest team in program history. However, Oregon is seeking championships. And that will continue to be the goal.
At the end of the day, if all three stay in Eugene then Oregon will win the 2018 National Championship. You heard it here first.
If two of the three remain, depending on who, I can see a similar result. Say Dorsey were the only to leave, then I see Oregon as the 2018 Preseason AP No. 1 team.
When people talk of the college basketball elite, Oregon must now be apart of that conversation. Nobody can deny the work and passion of a talented program that refuses to be satisfied with consistent success.
In the coming days, we could witness the first decision that decides the winner of the 2018 National Championship.
Thanks for reading all season! I look forward to consistently providing you offseason coverage on Oregon basketball. I love this team and would be remiss to not thank them, as well. All the best! ALWAYS US.