2003 Pac-10 Preview: Oregon

The reigning champions of the Pac-10 are profiled in part six of this ten-part series. Oregon exploded onto the national scene last year and came within one game of the Final Four before bowing out to a great Kansas team. This year the Ducks have arguably the best player in the league in point guard Luke Ridnour as well as one of the most intriguing first-year players: redshirt freshman Ian Crosswhite.

Oregon Ducks (Eugene, OR)
2001-02 record:
26-9 (14-4, Pac-10, Champions)
Lost, NCAA Elite Eight
Returning starters:

Projected Lineup: (*=returning starter; Incoming recruit in BOLD)
PG-Luke Ridnour*, 6-2, 180 Jr. (15.5 ppg, 5 apg, 1.5 spg, .468FG%, .441 3pt%, .867FT)
SG-Andre Joseph, 6-3, 180 So. (JC transfer is an outstanding shooter)

G/F-Luke Jackson*, 6-7, 220 Jr. (16.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.3 spg, .458FG%, .400 3pt%, .864FT%)
PF-Robert Johnson*, 6-8, 230 Sr. (7.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg. Favorite to lead Pac-10 in rebounds)
C-Brian Helquist, 6-9, 275 Sr. (3.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, .537FG% in 13 mpg)

James Davis, 5-10, 175 Jr. SG (6.0 ppg, .460FG%, .404 3pt% in 13 mpg)
Ian Crosswhite, 6-11, 225 Fr. WF (Native of Australia redshirted in 2001-02)

Matt Short, 7-0, 230 Fr. C (Redshirted in 2001-02)
Brandon Lincoln, 6-4, 190 Fr. G (Top 75 prospect from Portland's Jefferson High)
Jordan Kent, 6-4, 175 Fr. G (Terrific athlete and son of head coach Ernie Kent)
Adam Zahn, 6-8, 225 Fr. F (14.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg as Sr. at Redondo Union HS)

Jay Anderson, 6-9, 220 Jr. C (1.7 ppg, 1.2 rpg, .462FG% in 7.5 mpg)

Recruiting class grade: A
--Counting redshirts Crosswhite and Short, the Ducks improved all over the court. Crosswhite could be a star thanks to his size and inside-outside game. Short has added 15-20 pounds of muscle since arriving on campus but probably won't be in the frontcourt rotation much to begin the year. Lincoln and Joseph are high quality wing players with shooting ability to help offset the loss of Freddie Jones. Joseph is expected to battle James Davis for the starting shooting guard job. Kent is probably the best athlete in the entire league and Zahn is a big man with athleticism.
Gem of the Class:
Brandon Lincoln, G
--Very highly thought of prospect from Portland can play all three positions on the perimeter and could be the primary backup to Ridnour at the point though he'll mostly play on the wing. With Ridnour and Jackson around him, he can only benefit by being on the court with them. He's not Freddie Jones but the Ducks won't miss much with him at the shooting guard spot when he's in the game. If he can get a little bit more aggressive on offense, he could be a star in the league.

*Jordan Kent joins his father, Ernie, and brother, Marcus, as part of the Oregon program. Marcus is a 6-4, 230-pound walk-on sophomore guard. Jordan will also run track in Eugene and will be competitive on a local and national level. He won individual state championships in the 200 and 400 meters and the long jump. He will participate in all three events at Oregon as well as the 4x400 relay team. Word is that Jordan may redshirt this year to focus on track and polish his basketball skills for future benefit.
*Crosswhite is a lefthander with a good jumper from out to beyond the arc and was named Australia's Junior (under 20) Player of the Year in 2001. He can play on the wing and at the power forward spot and had it not been for an ankle injury, Crosswhite would have played on last year's Elite Eight team. Reports out of Eugene said that the Aussie "dominated on the scout team against the starters" a year ago. Expect Crosswhite to be among the best first-year players in the Pac-10 in 2003.
*Ernie Kent is the head coach of the Junior USA national team and is under a two-year commitment. What that means is that Kent will have access to all of America's best high school talent and should be able to several to sign with him at Oregon and keep the Ducks' basketball program at a high level for years to come.

2003 Expectations:
--With a point guard the caliber of Luke Ridnour on its roster, Oregon is going to be very, very good once again. Throw in the most versatile wing in the conference in Luke Jackson and all of the sudden you have a title contender. Ridnour should win the conference Player of the Year with Jackson a lock to join him on the All-Conference first team. If Oregon can get contributions from the frontcourt and the recruiting class, the Ducks should be right back in the mix during the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.
Pac-10 Projection:
Postseason chances:
NCAA lock, probable Sweet 16 team.

E-mail Ben Hansen at AZPointGuardU@yahoo.com

June 25-ASU (5th)
June 26-USC (6th)
June 27-UCLA (3rd)
June 28-Stanford (9th)
June 29-Cal (4th)
Wednesday-Washington State
Thursday, July 4th-ARIZONA

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