By Jacob Hamre | Oregon Sports News
Since coming to Oregon in 2010, Dana Altman has more than proven to be a great hire. On the recruiting end, he has landed countless five-stars and manages to pick up a few key transfers every offseason. Over the last ten seasons, he has only failed to make the NCAA Tournament two times, with 2020 being canceled due to Covid.
Altman has brought the Ducks to heights that they hadn’t seen before. After an uncharacteristic tournament miss in 2022, a revamped roster will hope to get Oregon back to its winning ways. During his 12-year Oregon tenure, Altman has coached many historic Duck teams. The best, however, has to be 2016, as the team made the Final Four with a key starter injured for the entire tournament.
It’s now been six years since that team played together in the green and yellow, but many are still playing basketball to this day. Let’s look at what five key players from that roster have done with their careers so far.
Most Final Four rosters have a similar recipe for success. A key ingredient in that recipe is an upperclassmen leader who the team can turn to when they need a basket. For Oregon, it was Dillon Brooks who fit that role.
During his junior season, the Canadian native took home Pac-12 Player of the Year after averaging over 16 points for the second straight season. He ended his Oregon career a year short and is the 10th all-time scorer in school history.
Surprisingly, his elite collegiate resume did not entice any NBA teams to select him in the first round that following offseason. Instead, the Memphis Grizzlies selected him in the second round, and so far, he has made the most out of his opportunity. Brooks was unlike many second-round selections. He was not sent down to the G-League, nor was he used much off the bench. In his first season, he started 74 games and averaged 11 points. He is now entering his sixth season and is still a regular starter for the Grizzlies. In 2020, he was given a three-year, $35 million extension, and he continues to represent Canada at the international level and is arguably the most successful current Pro-Duck.
As mentioned earlier, the 2016 Final Four team was not at full strength during their impressive run. During the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, F/C Chris Boucher tore his ACL. Boucher was a monster on the defensive side of the ball for Oregon, and his absence left undersized Jordan Bell in charge of the five position.
Boucher only played two seasons for Oregon after transferring from Northwest College. In his two seasons, he managed to tally 189 blocks, ranking second in school history. Coming off the devastating injury, Boucher went undrafted and was signed by the Golden State Warriors.
His career took a massive turn the following offseason when he signed with the Toronto Raptors. With their G-League affiliate, Boucher averaged 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks a game on the path to winning G-League MVP. Expectedly, he was then brought up to the NBA and has been a key rotational piece for the Raptors, even winning an NBA Championship in 2019. The Canadian will stay in his home country for at least three more seasons as he signed a three-year $35.25 million extension with the Raptors this offseason.
Out of the five players on this list, Payton Pritchard is the only one who returned to Oregon following the 2016 season. The Oregon native instead played out the rest of his eligibility and became arguably one of the greatest Ducks of all time. He has the fourth most points and second most steals in school history and is the only Pac-12 player with 1,900 career points, 500 career rebounds, and 600 career assists.
His senior season did not get the ending it deserved. The NCAA tournament was canceled, and the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year did not get to make his third March Madness appearance. After Oregon, he was selected in the first round of the 2020 NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics. In his two seasons so far, he has appeared sporadically off the bench and even got some meaningful minutes during Boston’s Championship run last year. The Celtics have a bit of a log jam at the point guard position with Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon all competing for minutes, so an expanded role is uncertain for Pritchard at this time.
Although Dillon Brooks was the leader of the 2016 team, Jordan Bell was right behind him. Bell, too, was a junior that year, and he became the heart of the team during their electric run, which saw him become the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. In a back-and-fourth elite eight matchup against the blue-blood Kansas Jayhawks, Bell finished with eight blocks in Boucher’s absence. He never allowed easy baskets in the paint and paved himself a path to the NBA with his impressive play.
Bell was selected with the 38th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and has yet to make a name for himself in the league. He has bounced around the league with various NBA and G-League rosters and is currently with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
To get the nickname “Mr. March,” you had to have put up an elite tournament stat line. In 2016, that’s exactly what Tyler Dorsey did. He closed out his collegiate career with eight straight 20+ point performances and was vitally important in the game against Kansas. He closed out the first half of that game with a long-range buzzer-beater three and finished with 28 points.
His post-college career has not gone exactly how he planned things to go. He was the third player on this list to be selected in the second round of the 2017 draft after being picked 41st by the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, he had a brief stint with the Memphis Grizzlies and recently played in Europe. As of 2022, he signed a two-way contract with the Dallas Mavericks and is set to play ball in the United States for the first time since 2019.