Oregon is going to have a few familiar faces (Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson, Francis Okoro) but will also have more new faces joining the program (CJ Walker, Chandler Lawson, Chris Duarte, Lök Wur, Anthony Mathis, Shakur Juiston). So who should be the starting five? Here’s my predictions on that answer:
PG: Payton Pritchard - Was there any doubt with this one? Pritchard has become the heart and soul of this team the last three seasons and is looking to have a breakout senior year while grabbing the attention of NBA scouts.
2018-2019 stats - 12.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.8 SPG
SG: Anthony Mathis - Mathis and Pritchard already have experience with each other from high school so of course these two are going to end up filling out the backcourt. Mathis, the grad transfer from New Mexico, can shoot the three especially well (41.6% last season) and Pritchard will be trying to find him for a lot of those deep-shot looks next season.
2018-2019 stats - 14.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 SPG
SF: Shakur Juiston - One of the nation’s prized grad-transfers from UNLV could end up being the leading scorer for Oregon. He is coming off a season-ending surgery for his meniscus so we will see how much of an impact he will make coming out the gate. Juiston could start off slow but just wait for him to pick it up come PAC-12 conference play.
2018-2019 stats - 10.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.0 AG, 1.5 SPG in 8 games played
PF: CJ Walker - The five-star recruit is a top-notch athlete who is skilled all-around. He has good size for his position but will definitely need to put some weight on in order to be successful against the bigger/stronger PAC-12 competition.
2018-2019 stats (senior year of high school) - 19.1 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 4.2 BPG
C: Francis Okoro - The x-factor for Oregon’s success next season. Oregon is missing some height down on the low-block and Dana needs Okoro to be THE big man. He showed flashes of what he can do on the defensive end of the floor last season but was pretty quiet when the ball was in his hands on offense. Francis could be the difference-maker in regards to this Oregon team receiving an NCAA Tournament bid or not.
2018-2019 stats - 3.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG in 13.6 MPG
Sixth Man: Chris Duarte - The National Junior College Player of the Year will be a versatile option for Altman right off the bench. Duarte can be moved around between the 1, 2, and 3 position. His offensive-ability will be a huge spark for Oregon but he still needs to work more with Altman of the defensive-side of the ball. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Duarte in the starting lineup a few times due to certain matchups with opponents. Remember how many different starting lineups Altman had in the first half of the season last year?
2018-2019 stats (JUCO) - 19.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 54.1 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 80.8 FT%
Bench: Will Richardson, Chandler Lawson, Lök Wur
I see Richardson losing his starting job just because of the amount of talented guards that are coming into the program. That doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact on this team. I mean, he’s the second-most experienced player with Altman’s system but he is only a sophomore. As for Lawson and Wur, they’ll see time on the court but I see it being limited for the time being as they adjust to the high-speed of college basketball. That’s not to say Altman could just completely change it up and throw one of those guys in the starting lineup because, as I said before, Dana likes to change up the rotation quite a bit.
*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho