There is a line in Ehab Amin’s biography that gets attention right away.
“At his last school, he led the country in steals,” Oregon junior guard Payton Pritchard noted.
At times, it almost seems like Oregon’s newest guard goes by the nickname of Ehab “Led the country in steals” Amin. Most of the initial reaction after Ehab joined the Ducks noted his milestone from two years ago when he finished with 124 steals at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
That was certainly part of the attraction when men's basketball coach Dana Altman sought out his latest graduate transfer who could be particularly useful when Oregon looks to press in the backcourt.
“We have to get so much better defensively,” Altman noted during Pac-12 media day last week. “We weren’t very good defensively last year and it hurt us.”
That message was given to the Ducks much earlier.
“I can help bring a lot of energy and leadership to a young team and defense too,” said Amin, a native of Alexandria, Egypt. “Coach Altman said we were not as good of a defensive team as those two years ago when they made a deep run at the NCAA Tournament.”
The 6-foot-4 Amin was slated to finish his college career last year at Corpus Christi before a hip injury forced him to sit out the season. After graduating with a degree in business, Amin decided to transfer to a program with a national profile.
He originally picked Nevada over Wichita State and Texas Tech, but looked around once again after the Wolfpack had a few other late additions to the roster. Miami, Florida State, Ohio State and Iowa State also were among the schools that contacted Amin, who averaged 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists in addition to 3.4 steals per game as a junior with the Islanders.
“I heard from every Power 5 conference but the main thing was the coaching staff and coach Altman,” said Amin, who was a first-team, all-Southland Conference selection as a junior. “Fitting in here and finding a role, especially for a one-year guy, was the main thing for me. I found that here.”
Oregon started a grad transfer alongside Pritchard in the backcourt during each of the past two seasons with Amin possibly following Elijah Brown and Dylan Ennis at that spot.
“He’s going to have to be big for us,” Pritchard said of Amin. “Obviously, being active on the defensive end and being a real physical defender and aggressive on offense. Making the extra play for people.”
Pritchard was the only true point guard for the Ducks last year while playing a team-high 35.1 minutes per game and leading the Ducks with 14.5 points per game. Altman has said he’d like to get Pritchard more shots this year, but will need to have options at the point in order to get Pritchard off the ball.
“I have been playing a lot in the backcourt with Payton,” Amin said. “The thing I like is that he can play on and off the ball and score at every spot.”
True freshman Will Richardson can also play the point while Victor Bailey is the only returning player in the backcourt other than Pritchard.
“I think it is going to switch up every game,” Pritchard said of the guard rotation. “Whatever teams are throwing at us, we are going to have to switch it up. That is what makes a team like Villanova so dangerous is they have multiple people who can handle the ball. I don’t look at it like I am playing off the ball or they are playing off the ball. We are all point guards so everyone can handle the ball and make plays for each other.”
Amin has already noticed a difference playing at Oregon with three weeks still remaining before the season gets started.
“This makes me compete on a daily basis for better competition in practice so that is helping me with my game every day,” he said. “That‘s why I came here. That’s what I’ve been looking for and now I have the chance to prove myself.”
Amin grew up playing for national teams in Egypt, but moved to the United States in 2013 after graduating from Riada American School. He made the move in hopes of attracting attention from college coaches by playing at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., before an injury forced him to miss that season.
“I got hurt right after my senior year of high school and that was a setback on my decisions and colleges so that’s why I decided to go to Corpus Christi,” he said. “Then I got injured again before my senior year at Corpus Christi, so I decided to graduate and transfer.”
Honor for Pritchard
Pritchard was named as one of 20 players oo the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award given to the top point guard in the nation.
Pritchard was a second-team, all-conference selection last year when he averaged 4.8 assists per game. His 171 assists were tied for No. 6 in program history for a single season.
Pritchard ranked second on the team with 51 steals and led the Ducks by shooting 41.3 percent on three-pointers.
The Ducks will hold tryouts for students who'd like to try to make the team as a walk-on.
Full-time students at UO need to bring their own shoes and practice gear to the tryout at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Matthew Knight Arena practice courts.