At 12:02 p.m. Tuesday, Dana Altman remained unsure of Troy Brown’s future at Oregon.
“I just want Troy to do whatever is the best for him,” Altman said during a press conference to wrap up the season that ended with a loss to Marquette in the NIT 16 days earlier.
“He and his family will make a decision. If coming back is the best for him, I’d love to work with him. If he feels like the NBA is the best for his career at this time, then we want him to do that.”
Almost 90 minutes after Altman finished that sentence, Brown, who just finished his freshman season, announced on Twitter that he would make himself eligible for the NBA draft.
“As long as I can remember, my dream has been to play in the NBA,” Brown wrote. “After long consideration I truly feel I am ready to pursue my dream and enter the 2018 NBA Draft. My time at Oregon has come to an end, but I will always be a part of the Oregon family.”
Brown called Altman just a few minutes before going public with the announcement.
“I told Troy we fully support his decision and wish him the best,” Altman said. “We really enjoyed working with Troy this year. He’s a terrific young man, and we look forward to the next chapter of his career in the NBA.”
From the time he signed with the Ducks as a five-star recruit on Nov. 11, 2016, Brown appeared destined to be Oregon’s first one-and-done to the NBA.
The 6-foot-7 Brown averaged 11.3 points and led the Ducks with 6.2 rebounds per game. He also averaged 3.2 assists and started all 35 games he played. He ranked fourth in the Pac-12 with 55 steals and finished 15th in assists and 16th in rebounding to earn honorable mention on the conference’s all-freshman team.
ESPN ranks Brown as the No. 20 prospect in the draft on June 21. NBADraft.net projects him to go with the No. 21 pick.
“I’m sure he’ll work his tail off and find a way to help a team,” Altman said.
Altman was ready to have Brown work on his shooting and cut down on turnovers if he returned as a sophomore. Brown shot 44.4 percent from the field, including 29.1 percent on three-pointers, and committed a team-high 86 turnovers.
“He does have to improve his shooting. That’s something most NBA teams would want him to do,” Altman said. “His ball skills are very good, and his instincts are very good. I’d like to see his assist-to-turnover ratio get a little better, which it would because he has a real good feel.”
With long arms and large hands, Brown’s potential appeals to the NBA scouts who have been following him since he developed into a McDonald’s All-American at Centennial High School in Las Vegas. Brown played for Team USA in the 2016 Men’s Under-17 World Championships.
Brown scored 18 points in his first college game, against Coppin State, and recorded a season high of 21 in victories over Colorado and Washington. He reached double digits in rebounds in five games, including a top mark of 12 in a victory over Texas Southern. His season-high nine assists against Portland State left him just shy of a triple double, when he had 10 points and 10 rebounds against Portland State.
Brown arrived at Oregon the year after Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell all declared for the NBA draft. The only other Ducks to leave school early for a pro career are Terrell Brandon in 1991, Luke Ridnour in 2003 and Michael Dunigan in 2010.
“I know my time was very short, but I’ve made a ton of memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” Brown wrote. “I would like to thank everyone at The University of Oregon for all they’ve done to help me get to this point.”
Brown’s departure — and Keith Smith’s impending transfer, also announced Tuesday — leaves Payton Pritchard and Paul White as the only two returning starters for the Ducks, who have three scholarships open for next season. Five-star forward Louis King might be counted on to replace Brown, and Abu Kigab also will return at forward.
“Our program will survive,” Altman said. “It may not be exactly what it was if (Brown) came back. I was thinking, ‘What if we had Dillon or Tyler or Jordan, just one of them came back? What a difference that would make.’ But seeing all three of them making a name and doing well, that would have been selfish on our part.
“Our job is to put them into position to go out and make a living and have a great career when they leave here.”