- A second straight top-five class for Dana Altman has Oregon positioned to once again be a player in the Pac-12 and nationally.
In continuing our annual summer theme of getting you acquainted with the next crop of young, skilled players that will arrive to college basketball, we're taking a closer look at the Top 10 incoming recruiting classes (per the 247Sports composite) in the country. These schools range from the usual faces (Duke, Kentucky) to fresh ones (Memphis, Washington, Georgia), but they all have one big thing in common: there's plenty of major talent arriving. Five-stars get the headline, but a truly great recruiting class often has depth as well—players who can be program-changers over three or four years, not just one or two. Without further ado, let's move to the next top-10 class: the Villanova Wildcats.
Five-Stars: N’Faly Dante (No. 14), C.J. Walker (No. 28)
Four-Stars: Addison Patterson (No. 42), Isaac Johnson (No. 74, will serve two-year church mission before joining the team), Chandler Lawson (No. 94)
Three-Stars: Lok Wur (No. 476)
JUCO: Chris Duarte (from Northwest Florida State College)
Other New Additions: Anthony Mathis (from New Mexico), Shakur Juiston (from UNLV), Eric Williams Jr. (from Duquesne) and Eugene Omoruyi (from Rutgers)
How the Class Was Built
Winter 2018-19: November was a big month for Dana Altman. Shortly after four-star center Isaac Johnson (who will serve a two-year church mission before actually playing for the program and won’t be around this fall) picked the Ducks, Oregon landed two more top-100 prospects in just over a week. Four-star forward Chandler Lawson pledged the program on Nov. 14 and then five-star forward C.J. Walker announced his commitment to Oregon eight days later, choosing the Ducks over Miami and LSU after taking official visits to all three schools. With Walker’s decision, Atlman’s 2019 class cracked the top-25 recruiting rankings collectively.
Summer 2019: Oregon landed a commitment from three-star big man Lok Wur, a late-rising prospect, in June after a bit of a recruiting break. Two months later, N’Faly Dante reclassified to the class of 2019 in August and announced his decision to head to Eugene, becoming the highest-ranked recruit in Oregon’s incoming class. Four-star guard Addison Patterson followed in his footsteps, reclassifying to 2019 and committing to the Ducks just days after Dante to close out the class.
How It Stacks Up to 2018 and Recent History
Oregon has landed two consecutive top-10 recruiting classes thanks to headliners like Bol Bol and Louis King from last season and the late-addition of N’Faly Dante to an already talented 2019 class that bumped the Ducks into top-10 territory again. After pulling in classes that sit at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in straight seasons, Altman has cemented his recruiting capabilities. Not that they were terribly in question—the Ducks have landed six straight top-25 classes and only two crews have fallen outside of that margin during Altman’s tenure—but the veteran coach has upped the ante and made Oregon into a consistent and legitimate contender for each recruiting cycle’s blue-chip talent.
Bringing in a bigger group to the team with the transfer and JUCO additions than last season, 2019’s newcomers fill voids across the floor for Oregon and will help potential Pac-12 Player of the Year Payton Pritchard and the rest of 2018’s remaining recruits (both Bol and King departed for the draft from 2018’s class, as did 2017 standout Kenny Wooten) continue to contend. With each new recruiting class in the last few years, Atlman has managed to capture higher-caliber recruits and at a greater quantity, adding greater depth and talent to the team.
Oregon’s 2019 recruiting class made an August jump to No. 4 in the country thanks to Dante’s late-summer reclassification, but he might not be around for more than one year to help build the program in light of last year’s losses in the frontcourt. The Ducks do, however, do a relatively decent job at retaining talented recruits, and it's possible Oregon’s sobering NBA draft night in June may help them keep players from departing as early as Bol, King and Wooten did. Bol fell from the first round, where he was projected to land, while King went completely undrafted and Wooten wasn’t really on anyone’s mind. The Ducks’ dismal draft outcome could convince players from this year’s crew who will face a decision in May (guys like Walker who might wind up on the fence) to stick around a little longer. That said, leaving early isn't like to be a problem for Patterson, Lawson or Wur. All three, as well as Johnson once he joins, should help lay a solid foundation for Altman that goes beyond 2019-20.
Team Expectations for 2019–20
Of the 15 highest-rated players to ever commit to Oregon, five are on this year’s roster. With a plethora of new faces, the Ducks will hope to figure out how to gel and learn Altman’s system quicker than they did in 2018–19, when they didn’t really find their footing until February. Dante is a big get for the rebuilding frontcourt, especially given that Johnson won’t be available at the five for two seasons. The incoming influx of talent (and depth) should put the Ducks back in Pac-12 title contention. Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament and then gave eventual champion Virginia a run in March Madness last spring and it brings in enough newcomers that it could manage to swing something similar next season.
With Pritchard’s impending graduation, the Ducks need a decent point guard to run the floor for them next season. Cue: five-star combo guards Jalen Green and Nimari Burnett, who look to be seriously considering coming to Eugene to fill that void, as well as four-star point guard Deivon Smith and combo Kadary Richmond. Altman has also offered two other floor generals who haven’t yet committed to another team–four-star Andre Curbelo and three-star Lynn Greer III, although neither seem too likely to pledge Oregon. Four-star Moses Moody is a key target on the wing who’s warm, while five-star shooting guard Joshua Christopher, the team’s top two target, isn’t as convinced. Five-star small forwards Ziaire Williams and Scottie Barnes both have offers from the Ducks, and either would be a huge get for Altman in 2020. Big men Makur Maker and Jaemyn Brakefield are the team’s top targets for up front.