For the second year in a row, the Oregon Ducks have picked up the best player in junior college basketball. Oregon fans couldn’t believe their luck last season when they saw how dominant Northwest College transfer Chris Boucher was. Now, the program looks to repeat that success by signing Gillette College’s Kavell Bigby-Williams.
The 4-star prospect was rated as the number 3 junior college recruit in the nation. In the 2015-16 season he averaged 16.8 points per game, 13.6 rebounds per game, and 5.9 blocks per game. Bigby-Williams was also an efficient scorer, he shot 59.2% from the field and 31.3% from beyond the arc. These numbers were enough for Bigby-Williams to win the title of Spalding NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Player of the Year.
Those who are skeptical of how well Bigby-Williams’ game will translate from junior college to the more competitive PAC-12 should look no farther than Chris Boucher. The two put up similar numbers in junior college with Boucher averaging 22.5 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 4.7 blocks per game. Boucher also won the JC Player of the Year award for his 2014-15 season. Boucher made a nearly flawless transition to the higher level of competition; in his debut year for the Ducks he averaged 12.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. Yet another similarity between Boucher and Bigby-Williams is that they share the same shooting skills—both shooting above 30% from 3—excellent numbers for big men. With the two looking as though they’ve been cut from the same cloth, Ducks fans can hope that Kavell Bigby-Williams will put up similar numbers in 2016-17.
With Boucher returning for 2017, Bigby-Williams will not likely be given as key of a role as Boucher was given last season. However, Dana Altman seems intent on making sure Bigby-Williams receives significant minutes. He plans on sometimes playing Boucher and Bigby-Williams at the same time, which has the potential to be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Bigby-Williams has already shown himself capable of contributing to the team before November rolls around. During Oregon’s tour of Spain in late August, he proved that he will be a key role player. He scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in his first game with the Ducks. He recorded a double-double (13 and 12) in the second game. Bigby-Williams was a major asset in the Ducks 4-0 Spain tour, and will continue to be an impactful player in the regular season.
Ducks fans will likely enjoy all Bigby-Williams brings to the team almost immediately. Because he is the same type of player that Boucher is, Bigby-Williams will be able to give the Ducks an immediate boost in rebounding and blocked shots, the former being one of Oregon’s weak points last season. He will also be able to score when he is given the opportunity. The Ducks will have a frontcourt that can compete with the best of them. Forward Jordan Bell broke the Oregon season record for blocked shots in 2015, only to have Boucher break that record in 2016. With Bell, Boucher, and Bigby-Williams all expected to receive minutes this season, it’s hard to imagine the Ducks defense being anywhere but close to the top.