SAN JOSE, Calif. — As Louis King took pictures with the Pac-12 Tournament trophy Saturday night in Las Vegas, a few Oregon fans began to chant “One more year.”
King said any decision on whether he returns to the Ducks for his sophomore year or joins the growing list of one-and-done players from the Oregon men's basketball team will not be made until after the Ducks finish up the NCAA Tournament.
“I don’t even want to speak on that,” King said in the locker room before Oregon practiced at SAP Center on Thursday. “I will wait until the end of the season. Right now I am focused on what we are doing.”
King moving around well.pic.twitter.com/DzWrb7JNFZ— Steve Mims (@SteveMims_RG)March 21, 2019
King expects to be at full strength when the 12th-seeded Ducks (23-12) face Wisconsin (23-10) in the first round of the tournament at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The 6-foot-9 freshman injured his ankle during a 79-75 overtime win over Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals last Friday, but returned to score 15 points as the Ducks defeated Washington 68-48 in the championship game Saturday. King was named to the all-tournament team.
King had a boot on his left foot in the locker room Thursday, but was on the floor practicing with the Ducks about 30 minutes later.
“I am just stabilizing it for support,” King said. “I’ve been practicing so I just wear it off the court so I don’t have to wear a shoe when my ankle hurts.”
King played 42 minutes against ASU and returned for 32 minutes against the Huskies.
“I felt great going into the championship game,” he said. “I knew once the adrenaline started pumping that it would not be a problem.”
Oregon needed to win the conference tournament in order to reach the NCAA field and give King some extra time to delay his NBA draft decision.
“This is what we wanted since the beginning of the year and now that we are here, there is no holding back,” he said. “We have to strive for greatness. This season almost slipped away from us and we picked it up the last eight games. We have been focused coming down the stretch.”
Freshmen finding roles
Will Richardson and Miles Norris have quietly settled into reserve roles in Oregon’s rotation.
Neither freshman made any media appearances during the regular season as Richardson declined a couple of interview requests from school officials while Norris was never made available to the media. NCAA Tournament rules require that all players be in the locker room to speak with reporters on the day before each game.
“This has been really exciting, a whole different feeling from the beginning of the year,” Richardson said of Oregon’s late-season run to the tournament. “I feel like we are more together as a team and the whole experience is much better.”
Richardson has been the first Duck off the bench in recent games while playing an average of 24.1 minutes. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 6.2 points while ranking second on the team with 89 assists.
“I just come in and do the things I know it takes for the team to win,” Richardson said. “You have to have somebody willing to give themselves up for the team. I fill the role they need me to fill.”
Norris has found a similar job with the Ducks. He had a total of 18 points and seven rebounds in four games at the Pac-12 Tournament.
“I feel like my role is to do whatever is needed of me,” he said. “I go into a game and play hard for as many minutes as they need. I am gaining confidence with every game.”
Both Richardson and Norris expect a full offseason to prepare for more minutes as sophomores.
“This is is a learning experience, learning what it takes to build your body and be in shape,” Richardson said. “Things that they don’t necessarily harp on in high school are important at this level.”
Norris sat out the first nine games when he was originally expected to redshirt this season.
“I will have to step in and play a bigger role next year,” he said. “Be more of a leader and progress as a player, getting better every day. I am working on ball handling and getting stronger."
Oregon went through a 40-minute shootaround at SAP Center that was open to the public Thursday afternoon. The Ducks later moved on to Bellarmine Prep for a closed practice.