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: 5.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 62.7 FG%
While many would consider N’Faly Dante’s first year in Eugene somewhat disappointing, there is another way of looking at it. Yes, missing 19 games due to injury and a late enrollment doesn’t look great, but look at it as a minor speed-bump, not a total roadblock. Dante is a former 5-star prospect and has the tools to succeed, despite the slow start to his career in Eugene.
Dante’s reclassification from the 2020 class to 2019 was supposed to spell big things for the Ducks this year. His combination of size and athleticism was supposed to make him the perfect pick-and-roll partner for Payton Pritchard. He was going to give the Ducks a rim protector and someone to clean up misses around the basket for easy second chance points. Unfortunately, due to the issues mentioned above, that isn’t exactly what we got from the freshman this year.
What we did get from Dante were flashes of talent, brief moments that showed what made him the no. 2 center in the 2020 class, according to 247sports. At his best, N’Faly has game-changing potential at both ends of the floor, his efficient down-low scoring complements a team like the Ducks who were the fifth best three-point shooting team this season. While most of N’Faly’s offensive impact came from finishing lobs and post ups, he can occasionally create baskets on his own, something that will hopefully improve with experience.
Despite Payton Pritchard leaving Eugene, Dante will not struggle finding a new set-up man to help create easy looks for him. Will Richardson is the favorite to take on that responsibility. Otherwise there is new grad transfer Amarui Hardy, previously of UNLV. And please don’t forget incoming freshman Jalen Terry, who has the chops to be the best passer of the bunch. Regardless of who, Dante will not go wanting when it comes to finishing plays down low for the Ducks. He may not be much of a jump shooter, but he has time to work on that, and luckily on this team he didn’t need to be.
Defensively he showed the potential to not only be a rim-protector, but has a knack for grabbing steals as well. He plays the defensive side with great energy and has the size and strength to overpower opponents, now the next step is improving his defensive positioning as he had an occasional tendency to get boxed out by opponents he should have been out-muscling himself. Despite this, he has tremendous defensive upside. His instincts compliment his physical gifts, creating an enticing potential to be Oregon’s defensive anchor.
What to look forward to in 2020-21
Big things. Look for big things from N’Faly Dante next year. With his enrollment mishap and injuries (hopefully) behind him, he can start the season on time and find a rhythm in the PPP era of Ducks basketball (Post Payton Pritchard). He has the skills to be Oregon’s starting center, and with the time to put it all together, could very well be the player we all thought he could be this past year.