This series will be reviewing every player who played for the Ducks in the 2019-20 season and is returning for 2020-21, as well as covering what to look forward to from next season’s roster.
Key Stats: 12.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.6 apg
You could call Duarte the Robin to Payton Pritchard’s Batman. That seems like a fitting comparison for the former Northwest Florida State Raider. Chris came into Eugene after two outstanding seasons at the junior college level, including winning the Junior College Player of the Year Award as a sophomore. He had no trouble making an impact at Oregon, dropping 16 points in his first game as a Duck. From there on out, Chris Duarte established himself as one of the key pieces of this Ducks team.
It did not take long for Duarte to make an impression at Oregon, in fact his transition to Division I basketball went about as well as it could have. Chris let us know early on that he was not the type to pass up an open shot, letting it fly when he was hot, and stayed aggressive when he was in a slump. Some might question the effectiveness of trying to shoot your way out of a slump, but you have to admire the confidence it takes to always believe that the next shot will be the one you need to make. The luxury of having multiple player the Ducks could rely on to make a play when called upon is something that many other college teams can say they have.
Duarte’s style of play made him an ideal running mate with Payton Pritchard, one was capable of stepping up their game if the other was having an off night, as well as playing off each other to be an unstoppable force in the backcourt. His shooting was a bit streaky at times last year, but he is a good enough shooter to force defenses to account for him at all times.
Where he really shone this year was on fast breaks. Ranking first on the team in steals, Duarte excelled at pilfering the ball and creating easy fast break opportunities. In the double OT win over USC, three of his season high eight steals came in overtime or double overtime. In fact, that thriller against the Trojans was the perfect microcosm of his game. He thrived on the break by creating turnovers, rebounded well and scored well in the paint, from the three point line and from the charity stripe. His 8 steals and 11 rebounds were season highs and his 30 points was only one off his high of 31 against Alabama State from earlier in the season.
A Pac-12 All-Defensive Honorable Mention, Duarte didn’t thrive just on the offensive end. His talent for turnovers has already been mentioned, he was also second on the team in rebounds at 5.6 a game, not bad for a 6’6 guard right? His defensive win shares were tied with Pritchard for highest on the team, and had the best defensive rating as well.
What to expect in 2020-21
Similar to Will Richardson, Chris will have the expectations of a potential leader for the Ducks next season, looked at as a catalyst for both offense and defense. He and Will have tantalizing potential as a starting duo, not to mention one of the taller backcourts in college basketball. The senior will have the burden of leadership, but he will be able to manage it just fine.