The Oregon Ducks have been one of the most consistent programs in the country over the last few years and will look to continue that success next season. Since 2013, the Ducks have made three straight NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2013 postseason.
In fact, during Dana Altman’s time in Eugene, the program has made the postseason every year, either the NCAA Tournament or NIT in four of his five seasons at the helm, and in the one other year won the CBI Tournament. It’s certainly not a resume that can compare to elite programs like Duke or Kentucky, but for a program like Oregon that had never put together three straight NCAA Tournament appearances before Altman’s arrival, it’s a huge achievement.
Now, with much of the roster returning from a 26-10 campaign that saw the team narrowly lose to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament, hopes are high. Four starters from last year’s lineup should return and a few other key contributors like Dwayne Benjamin should also be back. There is depth, experience, and talent on Oregon’s roster for next season, which are typically good signs for a team’s success.
Still, there was one huge loss from the lineup that Oregon will have to address. Unfortunately, despite all the returns, do-it-all senior guard Joseph Young is leaving the program and taking his contributions with him.
Young may not have received the national attention of some other players last season since he played in an underwhelming Pac-12 conference, but he did have a massive impact for Oregon last season. Not only did Young play 91.1 percent of the team’s minutes, but his usage rate for the team was also massive. In fact, Young took 30.5 percent of the team’s shots while on the floor, which was put him second in the entire Pac-12 last season and nearly 10 percent higher than any Duck that played at least 50 percent of the team’s minutes last year. He was a huge part of last year’s Ducks team.
Needless to say, even with the massive returns and likely growth of returning freshmen players like Jordan Bell, Casey Benson, and Dillon Brooks, replacing Young is going to be question No. 1, 2, and 3 of this offseason for Oregon. If the Ducks can find a good point guard to at least take a large portion of Young’s minutes and be productive, it would go a very long way in allowing the other returners to flourish.
Enter Dylan Ennis.
Despite losing Young in the offseason, there was no clear option at the point guard position that was already on the roster. Sure, they could move around some lineups and incoming recruits like Tyler Dorsey and Kendall Small could potentially fill the role, but there were no proven commodities to attempt to fill Young’s role. Luckily, in the offseason, the Ducks added a huge transfer that should have an immediate impact.
Dylan Ennis enters the program after transferring from Villanova. He began his career with Rice and had a decent freshman year before opting to transfer to Villanova, where he sat out a season and then put up two solid years for the program including a monster 2014-15 season. During last season, Ennis played 69.9 percent of the team’s minutes with a 108.8 offensive rating, a 51.5 percent effective field goal percentage, and finished in the Top 10 of the Big East in assist rate.
Now, Ennis steps into an Oregon program amid one of the best periods in program history and returning a massive amount of talent and depth from last season. Elgin Cook was named to the second team All-Pac 12 last season and both Jordan Bell and Dillon Brooks made the All-Pac 12 freshman team.
And that’s just the core of this team. Casey Benson and Dwayne Benjamin also return and the program is adding a really nice recruiting class that ranked No. 22 nationally according to 247Sports.
This was a roster already primed for a huge step forward after coming off a Round of 32 appearance in the NCAA Tournament that has addressed what appears to be the only void in its lineup. Ennis is a proven commodity and should not only be an efficient part of the team, but is a great fit for this team considering his consistent and effective passing skills. Outside of Young, the only Oregon player to finish in the Top 20 in the conference in assist rate was Ahmaad Rorie and opted to transfer this offseason. This team needed a point guard and they found a proven player that excels at getting other players the ball.
With the pieces returning for Oregon, fans couldn’t ask for much more from an incoming transfer.
Whether Oregon can take the step forward that fans are hoping to see next season is still an unknown, but with the team’s returning talent, recruiting class, and addition of Dylan Ennis, the Ducks could be in position to make a ton of noise in the Pac 12 and possibly even be a contender for next season’s Final Four. Ennis certainly will need help, but he could be the vital piece that allows everything else to click in Eugene.