Which players belong on the Oregon Ducks Basketball all-time starting five?

·11 min read

The Oregon Ducks may not be considered a blue-blood program when it comes to the world of men’s college basketball, but over the years, they have been no stranger to success.

The ‘Tall Firs’ were the winners of the first-ever NCAA Tournament in 1939, and the Ducks have been a mainstay among the best teams in the nation for decades, especially when looking since the turn of the century.

While Oregon isn’t on the same tier as college basketball’s blue-blood programs, it has put together a rather impressive resume of its own:

  • National Championships: 1 (1939)

  • Final Four Appearances: (1939, 2017)

  • Elite Eight Appearances: (1939, 1945, 1960, 2002, 2007, 2016, 2017)

  • Sweet Sixteen Appearances: (1960, 2002, 2007, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021)

There have been some legendary coaches in the history of Oregon basketball, but those coaches wouldn’t have been able to achieve their success without some of the players who were on the floor.

That begs the question, who would make up Oregon basketball’s all-time starting five? Today at the DucksWire, we’re going to unpack who those players should be, and their credentials:

Guard — Ron Lee (1972-1976)

Ron Lee
Ron Lee

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 112

Career Points: 2,085 (1st in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 580

Career Assists: 543 (3rd in UO history)

Career Average: 18.6 PTS | 5.2 REB | 4.8 AST

Analysis: The only player in Oregon history to score over 2,000 career points, and one of the leaders of the basketball phenomenon that would be known as ‘The Kamikaze Kids.’ You could argue that Ron Lee is the greatest Duck of all time, and likely not get much push-back. He ranks 1st in career points, 3rd in career assists, and is a three-time All-American selection. In 1976, Lee went on to be drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 10 pick in the draft. To this day, he is one of only 7 Ducks to have his jersey — No. 30 — retired.

Guard — Luke Jackson (2000-2004)

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Total Games Played: 126

Career Points: 1,970 (2nd in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 746 (8th in UO history)

Career Assists: 424 (7th in UO history)

Career Average: 15.6 PTS | 5.9 REB | 3.4 AST

Analysis: If you’re going to argue that Ron Lee is the best Oregon player of all time, Luke Jackson may be the only candidate that could offer some pushback. To this day, Jackson is the only player in Oregon history to rank inside the school’s top-10 in points (2nd), rebounds (8th), and assists (7th). As half of the famous “Luke-to-Luke” combo in the early 2000s, Jackson helped lead the Ducks to an Elite 8 appearance in 2002 and will go down as one of the best Ducks of all time. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 10 overall pick in 2004.

Guard — Payton Pritchard (2016-2020)

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 144

Career Points: 1,938 (4th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 550

Career Assists: 659 (1st in UO history)

Career Average: 13.5 PTS |3.8 REB | 4.6 AST

Analysis: Some of you may be surprised by this selection, and say that Payton Pritchard is on this list mainly due to recency bias. When you look at his career stats though, it’s hard to deny that he belongs. 4th in career points, and 1st in career assists. That’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was a single point shy of 3rd place on the list as well. Pritchard had a decorated college career, where he was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a 1st-Team All-American in 2020. He also won the Bob Cousy Award in 2020, but unfortunately had his final season cut short of the NCAA tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a common thought that the Ducks were primed for a deep run in that tournament, which could have potentially added to Pritchard’s trophy case. Pritchard was later drafted by the Boston Celtics with the No. 26 pick in 2020.

Forward — Greg Ballard (1973-1977)

(AP Photo/Gene Puskar)

Total Games Played: 115

Career Points: 1,829 (4th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 1,119 (1st in UO history)

Career Assists: 220

Career Average: 15.9 PTS | 9.7 REB | 1.9 AST

Analysis: The anchor of the “Kamizake Kids,” Greg Ballard was among the best big-men in Oregon history, grabbing a school-record 1,119 career rebounds. Ballard was also a force in the paint, where he holds the 4th most career points, and also has the single-game scoring record at Oregon, with 43 points in one contest. The four-year starter was the fourth overall pick in the 1977 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets and, as a rookie, won the 1978 NBA title with the Bullets.

Forward — Stan Love (1986-1971)

(AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)

Total Games Played: 78

Career Points: 1,644 (Tied 8th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 818 (6th in UO history)

Career Assists: N/A

Career Average: 21.1 PTS | 10.5 REB | N/A

Analysis: You don’t usually think of big-men as the most prolific scorers in the spot, but for the Ducks, Stan Love is in consideration for that honor. To this day, he is still the only player to average over 20 points per game in consecutive seasons. Love was the 9th overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Baltimore Bullets.

Honorable Mention — Fred Jones

(Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Total Games Played: 125

Career Points: 1,644 (Tied 8th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 631

Career Assists: 367 (8th in UO history)

Career Average: 13.2 PTS | 5.0 REB | 2.9 AST

Analysis: Fred Jones may not be the best player to ever play for the Ducks, but he certainly was among the most exciting. As a member of the 2002 Elite 8 team alongside Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson, many Oregon fans will remember Jones as a high-flying individual who averaged over 18 points per game in his final year with the Ducks. Jones went on to get drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the No. 14 pick in 2002, and he won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 2004.

Honorable Mention — Luke Ridnour

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Total Games Played: 96

Career Points: 1,399

Career Rebounds: 285

Career Assists: 500 (4th in UO history)

Career Average: 14.6 PTS | 3.0 REB | 5.2 AST

Analysis: I have to admit that when I started this project of finding the 5 best players in Oregon history, I jotted down a few names that I knew would be on the list before diving into the stats. Luke Ridnour was the first name that I wrote down. The legend is there, but unfortunately, the stats don’t stand up with the others on this list. If you want to argue that he should be on the starting 5, I absolutely won’t fault you. He’s among the best players to ever wear an Oregon uniform, and it hurt me to drop him down to the honorable mention category. As part of the 2002 team that made it to the Elite 8, this half of “Luke-to-Luke” will forever be a member of Duck’s Lore.

Honorable Mention — Malik Hairston

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Total Games Played: 117

Career Points: 1,644 (Tied 8th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 598

Career Assists: 244

Career Average: 14.1 PTS | 5.1 REB | 2.1 AST

Analysis: Malik Hairston had some injuries slow down his career at Oregon, but he was an integral piece to the 2007 Elite Eight run, alongside Maarty Leunen and Bryce Taylor. His career points rank tied for 8th most in Oregon school history, and his rebounds and assists were not far outside of the top-10 either. Hairston went on to get drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the second round of the 2008 draft.

Honorable Mention — Anthony Taylor

Total Games Played: 115

Career Points: 1,939 (3rd in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 462

Career Assists: 300

Career Average: 16.9 PTS | 4.0 REB | 2.6 AST

Analysis: Anthony Taylor will go down as the third-highest scorer in Oregon history, with 1,939 points in his four years with the Ducks. Taylor was also one of only four players in school history to lead the team in scoring in three different seasons. Taylor went on to be drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 1988 NBA Draft.

Honorable Mention — Tajuan Porter

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 126

Career Points: 1,803 (6th in UO history)

Career Rebounds: 290

Career Assists: 259

Career Average: 14.3 PTS | 2.3 REB | 2.1 AST

Analysis: One of the things that were so enthralling about Tajuan Porter is the fact that he was so good at such a small size. Standing at just 5-foot-7, Porter was almost always the shortest guy on the court but was usually the most gifted scorer at the same time. Porter held the school and Pac-10 Conference record for most career 3-pointers made with 345 at the end of his career. He also ranks eighth in school history for career field goals made (584) and ninth in career steals (103).

Honorable Mention — Dillon Brooks

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 109

Career Points: 1,612

Career Rebounds: 495

Career Assists: 279

Career Average: 14.8 PTS | 4.5 REB | 2.6 AST

Analysis: If we were doing a starting five of the best Oregon players since the turn of the century, then Dillon Brooks would certainly be on the list. During his time with the Ducks, Brooks was the heart and soul of the team, helping lead Oregon to appearance is the Elite Eight and Final Four in his final two seasons in Eugene. Brooks was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2017, and later went on to be drafted by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

Honorable Mention — Jordan Bell

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 105

Career Points: 814

Career Rebounds: 719

Career Assists: 155

Career Average: 7.8 PTS | 6.8 REB | 1.5 AST

Analysis: The stats don’t say a lot for Jordan Bell’s case to be among the top five Ducks of all time, but his presence and impact on the Elite Eight and Final Four teams in 2016-17 speak for themselves. His points or rebounds don’t jump off the page, but Bell averaged more than 2 blocks per game for his career, and was a dominant defensive force for the Ducks.

Honorable Mention — Kenya Wilkins

Total Games Played: 112

Career Points: 1,488

Career Rebounds: 365

Career Assists: 614 (2nd in UO history)

Career Average: 13.3 PTS | 3.3 REB | 5.5 AST

Analysis: Part of what made Kenya Wilkins so special at Oregon was his ability to help turn around a fledgling program that hadn’t made it to an NCAA Tournament in 34 years. Wilkins remains at No. 2 on the career assist list for the Ducks, and he has the most career steals (213) in school history as well.

Honorable Mention — Chris Boucher

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Total Games Played: 69

Career Points: 825

Career Rebounds: 468

Career Assists: 28

Career Average: 12.0 PTS | 6.8 REB | 0.4 AST

Analysis: What could have been had Chris Boucher not been injured. In 2017, the year that the Ducks went to the Final 4, Boucher tore his ACL in the Pac-12 Tournament after being one of the team’s best players for the entire season. Boucher also holds the single-season block record for the Ducks (110). He went on to be undrafted in the NBA, but has had a successful career after getting picked up by the Toronto Raptors.

The Next Candidate — Will Richardson

Photo by Ethan Landa | USA TODAY Sports’ Ducks Wire

Total Games Played: 115*

Career Points: 1,173*

Career Rebounds: 369*

Career Assists: 336* (9th in UO history)

Career Average: 10.2 PTS | 3.2 REB | 2.9 AST

Analysis: All of Will Richardson’s stats come with an asterisk because his career at Oregon isn’t over yet. After announcing that he would be coming back for one more season with the Ducks, Richardson has a chance to play himself onto this list, at the very least in the honorable mention category. Richardson needs 471 points to crack the top-10, and he is already 9th in Oregon history when it comes to career assists. One more solid season with the Ducks, and Richardson could enter the record books.

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