In part two of our Pac-12 previews, we'll take a look at what Oregon and Oregon State will bring to Pac-12 basketball in 2015. It will be a season filled with tests for both teams. Oregon will be tested while hoping to find their next Joe Young, and the Beavers will be looking to make big strides from the successes of last season. This year will most likely be a make or break season for each team, as they will have the opportunity to move into the upper ranks of Pac-12 Basketball, or return to the bottom of the conference.
Departures: Joe Young (Senior/NBA Draft), Jalil Abdul-Bassit (Senior), Michael Chandler (Transfer), Tim Jensen (Senior), Anthony Piganelli (Senior)
Returnees: Elgin Cook, Dillon Brooks, Dwayne Benjamin, Jordan Bell
Newcomers: Tyler Dorsey (ESPN100 #38), Kendall Small (ESPN100 #92), Trevor Manuel (ESPN: 4 Stars), Dylan Ennis (Villanova Transfer), Chris Boucher (JUCO Transfer)
Even though the Ducks lost their senior leader in Joe Young, they shouldn't hit the panic button just yet. Thanks to the excellent recruiting skills of Dana Altman, Oregon landed not only one but two possible players to fill the hole left by mighty Joseph Young in Villanova transfer Dylan Ennis, and freshman Kendall Small. Ennis will automatically provide the Ducks with a senior leader and natural finisher at the rim. Freshman Kendall Small will also provide valuable minutes at the point guard position. Along with the two new point guards, the Ducks' backcourt grows even stronger with Tyler Dorsey (*single tear). Dorsey is an incredibly athletic, fast paced guard, who has the potential to make an immediate impact. Chris Boucher will be another new player to watch. Last season, Boucher was the JUCO player of the year averaging 22.5 points per game, while shooting 44.4% from deep. Boucher may be a diamond in the rough, as Oregon has a history for finding incredibly talented JUCO players.
To make sure the transition from the Joe Young era to the future era goes as smooth as possible for the Ducks, they will have to bank on the leadership of the returning upperclassmen such as Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin. Despite having the Ennis transfer, he won't know the ins and outs of every player, and it will take him time to figure out the new system. Not to mention Ennis has played as a shooting guard for the past few years, and is not a natural point guard. With Cook and Benjamin leading the way, this will give Ennis as well as Kendall Small time to develop. Not surprisingly, Tyler Dorsey may have to step into a leadership role immediately if Small and Ennis struggle at first.
Best Case Scenario: Dylan Ennis has a flawless transition to the point. Cook and Benjamin provide the necessary leadership and stability. The freshman develop quicker than expected. Tyler Dorsey makes Buff fans weep. Oregon continues to build their basketball program, challenges Arizona for the Pac-12 title, and makes a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Worst Case Scenario: It is revealed that Joe Young was truly the heart of the team. Ennis struggles at the point. Senior leadership is absent all season. The freshman, and Boucher don't pan out. The Ducks find themselves in the middle of the Pac-12, and win a game or two in the NIT.
Departures: Victor Robbins (Dismissed from team)
Returnees: Gary Payton II, Malcolm Duvivier, Langston Morris-Walker, Jarmal Reid, Olaf Schaftenaar
Newcomers: Stephen Thompson Jr. (ESPN100 #63), Tres Tinkle (ESPN100 #91), Drew Eubanks (ESPN: 4 Stars), Noah Togiai (ESPN: 3 Stars), Derrick Bruce (ESPN 3 Stars), Gilgorije Rakocevic (ESPN: 2 Stars), Kendal Manuel (N/A)
Oregon State has a significant amount of pressure to continue to build on where they left off last season. The Beavers do not graduate a single player. However, they do lose Victor Robbins as he was dismissed from the team in early June. Robbins was also suspended for second half of the 2014-15 season, and that did not appear to have a significant effect on the team. To fill his spot, the Beavers return big men Jarmal Reid and Olaf Schaftenaar. OSU also will bring on coach's son, and ESPN100 recruit Tres Tinkle to help fill the hole left by Robbins. Oregon State's backcourt continues to grow even stronger with Gary Payton II and Malcolm Duvivier returning for another season. Plus, they add freshman Stephen Thompson Jr. who will compliment Payton nicely, with his solid shooting range.
In order to prevent Oregon State from losing any ground they gained from last season, Gary Payton II must step into a senior leadership role. He must facilitate the offense and go out of his way to ensure his teammates are involved in every play. Rising seniors Jarmal Reid, Olaf Schaftenaar, and Langston Morris-Walker must shoulder leadership roles too. Simply relying solely on Payton will land the Oregon State in a similar position as last season. Furthermore, it is essential that OSU improves their perimeter shooting. Last season the Beavers shot 42.2% overall and 32.3% from deep, which landed them with the 243th ranked shooting percentage out of the 315 D1 teams. With their slow pace of play and lockdown defense, they must score on nearly every offensive possession in order to be successful this year.
Best Case Scenario: Gary Payton II becomes the leader Oregon State needs. The team as a whole improves their outside shooting. Their defense becomes even stronger than last year. The freshman provide more than expected help for the program. OSU doesn't miss a beat from last season, and make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990.
Worst Case Scenario: Oregon State is never able to put all the pieces together. Gary Payton II does all he can for his team, but the team's shooting does not improve, and the Beavers struggle on offense. The defense is just alright, but nowhere close to last season's dominance. OSU finishes out the season in the middle to lower part of the Pac-12, and end their year without a postseason tournament once again.
The Ducks and the Beavers will be two teams to closely watch this coming year. Their solid recruiting will provide them with a foundation for future success. However, both teams must grow from last season if they want to maximize their potential. The crucial piece for both teams this year will be the emergence of upperclass leadership. Regardless of what happens, college basketball appears to be on the rise in the state of Oregon.