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Duck Hunt: Brian Bowen vs Cameron Johnson

If Oregon has to choose, who will it be?

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon head coach Dana Altman may be forced to choose between two stars; Brian Bowen and Cameron Johnson

They are somewhat similar players. At 6-foot-7, they both play a hybrid role and scorch the nets from deep. If the Ducks can have ONLY one, who is the better option?



Johnson is a shooter with a velvet touch from deep. Impressively, he finished fifth in the ACC in 3-point percentage (.415) and eighth in field goals from downtown at 2.3 per game.

The Pitt transfer is experienced and has played top-level competition in the ACC. He has range from everywhere on the floor. He is an 80 percent free throw shooter, finishing whenever he get fouled. Johnson is a great shooter and spreads the floor with his length.

Maybe the best part about Johnson is his Basketball IQ. He will add experience and leadership to a young Duck squad.

NCAA Basketball: Marshall at Pittsburgh
Pitt transfer Cam Johnson is the No. 2 overall transfer target in college basketball. He will have two years of eligibility after he decides on his next destination. Kentucky, Arizona and UCLA are also vying for the 6-foot-7 shooter.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

He was basically a 3.5-star prospect coming out of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Pennsylvania. Johnson was a composite 83 recruit, but scouting ranks varied between three and four stars. His maturity and game have grown equally over his last three years in college.

CJ is poised for a breakout campaign. He has two years to mold himself into a machine, if he chooses to stay that long. If he puts it all together, Johnson will be a monster this season.

Oregon’s Projected Starting Five:

PG - Payton Pritchard

SG - Elijah Brown

SF - Cam Johnson

PF - Troy Brown Jr.

C - Kenny Wooten Jr.

With Johnson playing on the wing most of the game, this line-up would be more limited than with Bowen on the floor. Johnson is a small forward, but could play at the four during times of desperation. If he adds weight or grows during the offseason, he could be better-suited to play a hybrid between small and power forward.

Johnson would force Brown to the four, which could cause issues. But, we saw an undersized Dillon Brooks dominate bigger opponents over the last three years.

This would be a more guard-oriented starting unit, much like 2016 Villanova with their four guards and one forward. Yet, we saw Altman run a 4-guard Oregon attack without Chris Boucher in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Beware: Johnson is being heavily recruited by Kentucky, Arizona and UCLA to name a few. A player of his caliber and intellect doesn’t come around very often. Many have visited with him. Don’t be surprised if he commits to the Tucson.


The Saginaw, Michigan product is the best available prospect from the remaining high school elite. Personally, I ranked Tugs as my No. 3 overall prospect in the 2017 recruiting class. He is a special player.

Does the fact that BB liked this tweet on Saturday have any significance behind it?

We shall find out soon. I digress.

Bowen is one of the highest-rated high school players on the planet. He is a composite 99 ranking by 247 and a 93 by ESPN scouts. Tugs is the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2017 recruiting class. He is a 5-star recruit that is coveted by most programs. BB is the No. 2 overall prospect from the state of Indiana.

In my opinion, Bowen is the best overall scorer in the 2017 class. Not only was he a participant in the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic, but he secured MVP honors at the JBC. He scored a game-high 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

“Brian Bowen is a nightmare matchup who consistently completes sequences where he rebounds the ball on the defensive, leads the break and makes a play for one of his teammates,” said La Lumiere head coach Shane Heirman. “His shooting ability is unmatched. He dominates the glass on both ends of the floor.”

High School Basketball: McDonald's All-American Portraits
Brian Bowen is one of the best high school prospects from the class of 2017. His scoring ability would be an instant boost to the team he chooses. Reports are circulating that he is deciding between Oregon and DePaul. He visited Eugene earlier this week.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As a senior at La Lumiere in Indiana, Tugs averaged 22 points per game, alongside six boards and three dimes a night with a loaded D1 roster. BB shot a ridiculous 59 percent from inside 3-point territory. He led his team to an incredible 24-1 record and the No. 2 overall ranking by USA Today.

Bowen is an offensive assassin. I have become slightly obsessed with his game over the last year. He has the best jumper in the 2017 class. Additionally, his stroke is effortless and pure. Bowen’s shot is as consistent as you will see in basketball. He is gritty, alongside possessing the “it” factor.

He is such a fluid athlete that BB makes it look easy at times. Bowen works with any system. He smoothly asserts himself as an unselfish player in the pick-and-roll game. The 6-foot-7 hybrid works his way through screens with grace. Plus, he has the ability to take over a contest at any moment.

Bowen effortlessly finds the open man off screens and his long wingspan creates problems on the defensive end. He is very active defensively, but subtle in his attack. Bowen is NOT one of those scorers who rests on defense. Tugs plays both ways.

He can score in a variety of ways and his athletic explosiveness is vastly underrated. Most focus on his shooting skills and precision from downtown. However, Tugs’ IQ for the game is off the charts.

Let’s not forget, he has a presence on the glass too. The quality that Dana Altman loves most is his uncanny ability to drop down and rebound on both ends of the floor. Oregon’s head coach constantly instructs his guards to rebound and get down further on the defensive end when shots are fired. Bowen needs no direction in that department.

Like Johnson, Bowen is very intelligent. He finished with a 3.50 GPA in high school.

Oregon’s Projected Starting Five:

PG - Payton Pritchard

SG - Elijah Brown

SF - Troy Brown Jr.

PF - Brian Bowen

C - Kenny Wooten Jr.

Whoa. This would be the better line-up and maybe the best starting five in the nation by the end of the 2017-18 season. Bowen is a natural small forward, but his rebounding tenacity allows him to play more physical at the four.

With Bowen occupying the power forward slot, Troy Brown would slide into a more natural small forward position. In all honesty, Brown can play anywhere from point guard to the power forward. His talent is limitless, allowing teammates to thrive around him.

Can you imagine this starting five flying up the floor on a transition break? This may be the most potent offense in the nation. With Bowen’s scoring ability, unselfish distribution and uncanny rebounding prowess, Oregon would be a greater nightmare to defend than with Johnson.

Beware: Everyone wants Bowen, especially with most of the top-ranked talent declared for college. Michigan State, Arizona and Creighton were the frontrunners for some time. However, Oregon and DePaul have apparently overtaken them recently. It has been a dog fight for Bowen among college coaches.


Brian Bowen. It’s a matter of pedigree. We are talking about a 5-star product and a possible 4.5-star at his best. Either way, the Ducks are heading in the right direction.

We know what Johnson can be, but nobody has any idea how good Bowen can be. Plain and simple, I am going with the higher upside player. With time and maturation, Tugs could be one of the best college basketball players in the country, if not the best.

Johnson is poised for a breakout campaign, but I can’t ignore the elephant in the room. If I had to choose between the two, it has to be the multifaceted Michigan native.

Nevertheless, Tugs could decide to leave after a year or two, but I would still rather have two years of Brian Bowen vs two years of Cam Johnson. Call it a hunch. In the end, I would be delighted with either player in green and yellow.

The May 17 signing deadline is fast approaching, so a decision could be made at any moment.

Entering spring, Altman and the Ducks had the No. 8 recruiting class with room for improvement. It should be an interesting end to the month of May.

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