If Payton Pritchard is correct, the 2020-21 Oregon men’s basketball roster has been finalized much earlier than usual.
"I think everyone is coming back, that’s what I heard," the former UO point guard said during a conference call with reporters last week.
It’s rare for a Division I school to have an offseason without any players transferring or leaving early for the NBA Draft. Oregon had a total of seven players turn pro early and seven others transfer during the past three years.
However, none of the 10 returning players with eligibility have stated an intention to leave and Pritchard indicated that all would return. Add in the addition of two transfers and a freshman and the Ducks have filled all 13 scholarships for next season.
Last year at this time, UO coach Dana Altman had five players on his roster before Pritchard took his name out of the NBA Draft. Altman spent the start of summer signing grad transfers Anthony Mathis and Shakur Juiston along with freshman Lok Wur. In August, freshmen N’Faly Dante and Addison Patterson rounded out Oregon’s roster after reclassifying in August to enroll in college one year early.
Altman and his staff should have more time for summer vacations this year with the roster locked up and any in-person recruiting events on hold due to COVID-19.
Oregon has only two spots open in its 2021 class after Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi and Amauri Hardy graduate. The Ducks expect freshman center Isaac Johnson, who signed last year, to join the team following a two-year church mission.
The three seniors next year will be joined by three juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. Sophomore guard Aaron Estrada will sit out after transferring from St. Peter’s. Walk-ons Eddy Ionescu and Luke Osborn could also return as seniors along with junior Will Johnson.
Altman will have a veteran group next season with 10 players who have Division I experience. The Ducks will have versatility throughout the roster, including a few players who could be used at forward or guard.
Duarte is the lone returning full-time starter. He averaged 12.9 points and 5.6 rebounds in 28 games before suffering a broken finger that forced him to miss the final three games of the season. He will likely begin the season in the starting rotation. The competition to replace four-year starter Payton Pritchard at point guard could feature a veteran, a transfer and a freshman.
Will Richardson has two years of experience as a combo guard in Altman’s system and ranked third on the team with 11.0 points per game last year in an average of 30.4 minutes while usually coming off the bench.
Hardy, who averaged 14.5 points and 3.3 assists as the starting point guard last year for UNLV, committed to the Ducks on Sunday. Jalen Terry, a four-star guard out of Michigan, is the only freshman in Oregon’s 2020 recruiting class.
Altman has gone with three-guard lineups at times in the past and he could do so again if he wanted to team Duarte and Richardson in the backcourt with one of the newcomers running the point.
Patterson and junior transfer Eric Williams, who sat out last season after averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Duquesne, have the versatility to play guard or small forward spots.
Dante could be a contender for one of the nation’s most improved players if he gets a full season after not joining the Ducks until December and then missing a month with a knee injury. The 6-foot-11 sophomore likely will be Oregon’s starting center after averaging 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in just over 13 minutes per game.
Francis Okoro returns at power forward along with Omoruyi, a 6-foot-6 transfer who averaged 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game at Rutgers in 2018. Altman can use some physical combinations with Dante, Okoro and Omoruyi up front.
Chandler Lawson was emerging as a presence inside for the Ducks as the season ended and could contend for more playing time next season. Sophomore C.J. Walker also returns at forward along with Wur, who sat out a redshirt season.