There are going to be a lot of unfamiliar faces in Eugene next season.
It’s been less than three weeks since Oregon’s season ended in a one-point Final Four loss to North Carolina, and all the program is dealing with now is uncertainty. Of Dana Altman’s “seven starters”, only point-guard Payton Pritchard remains. The rest have been lost to either graduation, transfer, or the draft.
The latest to add his name to the list of departures is Jordan Bell. The junior center is coming off his best season, where he averaged 10.8 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game, and 2.2 blocks per game. Bell was one half of what was possibly the best defensive front-court in the nation with Chris Boucher. Bell was recognized for his accomplishments when he was named the 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Bell made a name for himself at Oregon right away as an elite shot blocker, breaking the Ducks’ single-season record for blocks as a freshman. That record would be broken by Boucher just a season later, but Bell still finished with the most career blocks in Oregon history, and fifth most in the Pac-12.
Much like Dorsey became nationally recognized for his offensive performances during the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Bell became recognized for his work on the defensive end. Bell finished the tournament averaging 12.6 ppg, 13.2rpg, and 3.0bpg. His best game came during the Elite Eight victory over Kansas where he had 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 blocks. Following the game, Bell was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Region.
Jordan Bell getting drafted in the first round seems like a long-shot right now, but it’s unlikely he falls further than the 40th pick. He’s a little undersized for his position, and his offensive game isn’t at an NBA level yet, but his athleticism and ability to rebound and block shots will be a valuable asset to any team that calls his name. It’s unlikely Bell becomes an NBA star, but he offers the skill-set that every team looks for in a role player, which bodes well for his chances of a lengthy career.
With all of the departures Oregon is dealing with, it’s highly unlikely that the team is able to make another Final Four run. The good news for the Ducks is that they have four open scholarships to use with an already solid recruiting class coming in.
The likely targets so far for these four scholarships include Brandon McCoy (No. 6 in ESPN 100), Jordan Tucker (No. 40), Elijah Brown (a sought after senior transfer from New Mexico), and Chase Jeter (a former five star center from Duke). Each player has expressed interest in Oregon and would be available to play immediately, aside from Jeter, who would have to sit out a year before two more years of eligibility.
Obviously, Oregon has suffered some major losses this offseason. The team will have many new faces taking up the majority of minutes. If Oregon’s offseason plans are unsuccessful, it’ll be much harder to recover from a total rebuild. Just getting two or three players off that list would help Oregon to come back quickly and continue to perform at the top of the Pac-12.