There may be no “I” in team, but there are exceptional individuals who play a large role in their team’s success. These are our nominees for the Best Male Athlete of Oregon athletics this year.
Dillon Brooks - Men’s Basketball
The Oregon men’s basketball team had a historic season, reaching the Final Four after a magical run that peaked with a dominating win over Kansas in the Elite Eight, in Kansas City for that matter.
The Ducks had a loaded roster, but they were led by junior forward Dillon Brooks. This year, Brooks led the Ducks in scoring (16.1 points per game) and field goals made (206). His performance during the year earned him Pac-12 Player of the Year honors and was a finalist for the Wooden Award. His 1,612 career points through his junior year were the most in Oregon history for that point in a player’s career.
There were many exciting moments that Brooks delivered over the course of the season, but this game-winning shot over No. 2 UCLA stands out as the best to me:
David Peterson - Baseball
Oregon ace David Peterson had a dominating year, and it paid off in a big way. At this week’s MLB Draft, Peterson was selected in the first round, No. 20 overall by the New York Mets. The last time a Duck was drafted that high was when Tyler Anderson also went No. 20 overall to the Colorado Rockies in 2011.
We selected David Peterson 20th overall in the 2017 #MLBDraft. Get to know the lefty from @OregonBaseball. https://t.co/Yzy1bhZNEd pic.twitter.com/gWWGW8iLZ2— New York Mets (@Mets) June 13, 2017
This year, Peterson went 11-4 with a 3.58 ERA, 140 strikeouts, just 15 walks and an opponent batting average of .237.
On April 28 against Arizona State, Peterson set an Oregon school record with 20 strikeouts in a 2-0 win over the Sun Devils. And just FYI, the MLB record for strikeouts in a game is also 20.
Edward Cheserek - Cross Country/Track & Field
In his final year with the Ducks, the King did not disappoint.
During the cross country season, Cheserek won his fourth straight Pac-12 championship, something no runner in conference history had accomplished. He was named the Pac-12 Athlete of the Year, becoming the only runner ever to win it four straight years. Cheserek then won the NCAA West Regional and finished third overall at the NCAA Championships.
During indoor track season, Cheserek won the 5K and 10K national championships, bringing his individual championship total to 17, the most in collegiate history. He also placed second in the mile, finishing with 28 points at the championships, which set an individual record. At the Last Chance Meet, Cheserek set the collegiate indoor mile record with a time of 3:52.01.
Cheserek capped off his career by winning the 10,000 at the Pac-12 Championships. He was then pulled out of the NCAA Championships due to injury, ending the most decorated collegiate career in history.
Justin Herbert - Football
While the Oregon football team may have been a disappointment this year, the arrival of Justin Herbert was a glance into a potentially bright future for the Ducks.
When senior transfer Dakota Prukop was benched following a disastrous start, the freshman stepped in and while the wins didn't pile up, his ability to step in midseason was impressive.
During his freshman campaign, Herbert completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
He became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Ducks since 1983. Then, in just his second start, Herbert set the Oregon single-game school record for passing touchdowns with six. In his next start, Herbert broke the Oregon single-game record for offensive yards with 512 and tied the record for passing yards with 489.
There’s no telling what Oregon football will look like over the next few years, but with Herbert leading the way, there’s nowhere to go but up.
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