- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
Oregon head basketball coach Dana Altman was given a tough task when he was asked to rebuild the Oregon program in 2010. With a roster depleted by transfers, Altman guided the Ducks to a CBI title in 2011. In season two, Altman almost delivered the Ducks a Pac-12 championship while having the team on the brink of the NCAA Tournament.
Altman's biggest challenge has been to even out the recruiting classes while trying to build a roster with transfer players. Last year the Ducks had two players who transferred in for their final year of eligibility. The goal is to set a solid foundation by bringing in high school players who are in it for the long haul.
With a strong group coming in this year, Altman and the Ducks look to build on last year's class by bringing in a new crop of high school players to help right the ship.
In 2012, the Ducks were able to sign an elite point guard for the first time since Aaron Brooks left for the NBA. Dominic Artis (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) will come in and run the team right away this fall. With a solid point guard in the fold, the Ducks now must look to build around the young playmaker as they try to keep up with Arizona, UCLA, Washington and the rest of the pack.
The Ducks are in the mix for some serious talent in the class of 2013 and could take the next step if they land one or more of the elite prospects.
The top target remains Aaron Gordon (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty). The No. 6 overall player in the ESPN 100 has offers from all over the country. He has been consistent in saying that Washington is his leader, followed closely by Oregon, then New Mexico and Kentucky. Gordon will wait until the late signing period before making the call, so a strong season by the Ducks would help them land the elite post player they desperately need.
Small forward Jabari Bird (Richmond, Calif./Salesian) has a top two of Washington and California but continues to keep Oregon near the top as well. Bird plays for the Oakland Soldiers, the same AAU team that Artis played for before signing with the Ducks. This year's version of the Soldiers features Gordon and the Robinson twins -- Tyrell and Tyree -- out of San Diego/Lincoln.
Speaking of the Robinson twins, the Ducks are heavily involved in their recruitment, as the Oregon football program has them among its top targets. Altman and the basketball program are doing everything they can to assist in the recruitment of the twins. The versatile athletes are the perfect fit for the Ducks on the gridiron and on the court.
Along with Washington, the Ducks appear to be the favorites for the services of the two-sport stars.
Along with the Robinsons, the Ducks are after another California guard. Darin Johnson (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon) recently trimmed his list to seven schools, with UCLA and Washington state trying to stay in it. Oregon, Marquette, Washington, Oregon State, San Diego State, Texas A&M and USC are all vying for the 6-foot-4 combo guard.
Johnson has official visits set to San Diego State, Oregon, Washington and Marquette. His first official scheduled was the one to Eugene as he knows Oregon players Arik Armstead and Artis. He has heard nothing but great things from the two and says he will enjoy spending time with them while in town on the weekend of Sept. 14-16.
Long Beach Poly is known for its football talent, but despite missing on Roschon Prince, the Ducks are sitting pretty for fellow Jackrabbit, Jordan Bell (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly). The 6-7 forward moved to Long Beach last year from Portland, Ore., where he starred at Jefferson High School. In 2010, Jefferson produced Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, who were both drafted this June after two years at Kentucky and Washington, respectively.
Bell has long held Oregon in high regards and continues to have the Ducks at the top of his list ahead of the likes of Texas, USC, Alabama and more.
If the Ducks are able to land the twins and Bell they would be looking very good going forward, as Altman tries to even out the program. Adding a player like Gordon to a young nucleus, led by Artis, the Ducks would be right in track and ready to compete with Arizona and UCLA in the coming years.
2hCFB Vegas Experts
2dMark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy