EUGENE — Dana Altman took an opportunity to watch all four of his 2018 recruits last week at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass.
He liked what he saw.
The coach headed east after Oregon lost at Arizona on Jan. 13 to get a close-up view of the players who have Oregon’s recruiting class ranked among the top three in the nation along with Kansas and Duke.
Louis King, a 6-foot-8 forward from Hudson Catholic High in Burlington, N.J., had 32 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in front of Altman.
King is the only one of the four Oregon recruits who didn’t transfer to a new school this off-season
Bol Bol, a 7-1 center who transferred from Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., scored 31 points during his game at the tournament.
King and Bol were both named to the McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta on March 28.
Altman got his second look in the past month at 6-4 guard Will Richardson of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., after seeing him at the Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro. Miles Norris, a 6-10 forward, transferred from Helix High in La Mesa, Calif., to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., this season.
“I was really encouraged. They played hard,” Altman said of his recruits. “Four very talented young men that I enjoyed watching.”
Oregon will graduate seniors Elijah Brown, MiKyle McIntosh and Roman Sorkin, leaving them with eight returning players barring transfers or early entrants to the NBA draft. The Ducks have one available scholarship remaining for next year.
Freshman Troy Brown, who is averaging 11.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, is a possible early entry into the draft, and Altman told Adam Zagoria of The New York Times on a podcast this week that Brown “probably will take a look” at leaving for the NBA.
Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey each declared for the NBA draft after the 2016 season but returned. They left early after taking the Ducks to the Final Four in 2017.
Like Bol and King, Brown was a five-star recruit in high school last year who played in the McDonald’s All-American game.
If Brown returns as a sophomore, Oregon could potentially have a starting lineup with Brown, Bol, King, junior point guard Payton Pritchard and sophomore forward Kenny Wooten. The Ducks also could have senior forward Paul White, sophomore forwards Abu Kigab and M.J. Cage, sophomore guard Victor Bailey and junior forward Keith Smith, along with the new recruits.
“I think we’re going to be No. 1 in the country next year,” King told Masslive.com at the Hoophall Classic.
Altman cautioned that a roster currently slated to have a combined total of eight freshmen and sophomores could have some growing pains.
“I think our fans and everyone can be excited, but just look across the country and teams that are dominated by freshmen have trouble,” he said. “It’s still a senior-dominated game. Look at Villanova — they have all their players back — and Michigan State. I think it’s always important to have that experience.”
As an example, Altman noted that the Pac-12 has only two teams in the top 25 in part because it had 14 players selected in last year’s NBA draft.
“A lot of programs lost a lot of really good players,” he said. “I think teams are getting better because a lot started out young like us. We had Kenny, Troy and Victor out there logging time, and that’s not usually a formula for success to have three freshmen out there against a veteran team.”