The Oregon Ducks have done what the Oregon Ducks have never done before.
They’ve made the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row.
This team may be without 7-footer Chris Boucher, but it took down both Iona and Rhode Island, meaning it’s ready to compete in the Sweet 16 against No. 7 Michigan — the so-called Team of Destiny.
But here’s the catch: We don’t care about Destiny. We don’t even care about the immediate future.
For this purpose, we care about the Ducks and their shot at the 2017 NBA draft. We care about how this team is going to develop prospects into the pros — not how it’s going to advance in the tournament.
*The following list of NBA draft prospects remaining in the NCAA Tournament is provided by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman.
No. 25: Tyler Dorsey
Out of 30 players to make the list, Tyler Dorsey comes in at No. 25. That may seem low to those who watched him knock down the biggest shot of the tournament on Sunday, but understand that he’s building his way up to this point.
“Dorsey couldn’t be hotter, having now scored at least 20 points in five straight games. He took over for Oregon to knock off Rhode Island in the Round of 32. Dorsey isn’t big or explosive, but he’s shifty off the dribble and consistent from behind the arc, where he’s shooting above 40 percent from three for the second-straight year.”
Dorsey has ice in his veins — that much is clear following this past weekend’s big shot. But he’s also a big-time scorer.
He’s not projected to be a an elite points-per-game player at the NBA level, but he’s making a name for himself in March Madness.
No. 20: Dillon Brooks
Dillon Brooks made the decision to come back to Oregon after last season. He could’ve gone pro, but he figured it best to build upon his legacy as a Duck (and yes, build his draft stock).
“From an NBA scouting perspective … we saw [Dillon’s] lack of athleticism go exposed against Rhode Island on Sunday, when he missed 13-of-20 shots, including a handful right at the rim.
Still, Brooks is strong and skilled with ball-handling and shot-making ability. And he happens to shine during big moments. Questions over his potential to finish, separate and defend could keep him outside the first round, but his impact play, production and toughness will get him drafted in the 30-45 range.”
Brooks is the kind of player who will either disappear in the spotlight or shine brightly. His tale remains to be told.
No. 19: Jordan Bell
Jordan Bell recently had the pleasure of meeting Lamar Odom, which is fitting because the younger baller has always tried to model his game after the latter.
“Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey do the heavy lifting for Oregon’s offense, but Jordan Bell’s hustle has been key. It’s not difficult to see it translating to finishes, rebounds and defense in a similar energizer role for an NBA team, given his tools, athleticism and motor.”
Sound like anyone you’ve heard of before?
“Bell was relatively quiet during Oregon’s win over Rhode Island on Sunday, though he still grabbed 12 boards and blocked two shots. He made more noise during the Ducks’ win over Iona on Friday, when he racked up 17 points (on one-missed shot) along with 12 more rebounds.
There isn’t much upside with Bell, but if he chooses to declare, he’ll enter the draft with a defined role and clear identity, making him easier for frontcourt-needy teams to seek out. “
It’s true that you have to wonder how much better Bell will be three or four years from now than he already is, but there’s also a catch to that thought: He’s already pretty damn solid.
Bell may be approaching his ceiling as we speak, but that’s not a huge knock on someone who can impact a game in so many different way.
Bell will be a big-time contributor this week in the Sweet 16, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll be a contributor at the next level.