Oregon is a title contender because two of its best players pulled out of the NBA Draft

Oregon is now in the national conversation again as one of the nation’s best teams.

Our own Jon Rothstein reported on Wednesday morning that Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey have officially withdrawn their names from the NBA pool and will instead head back to Eugene to play for the Ducks in 2016-17. Obviously this is huge news for the Ducks, and this will have clear Pac-12 implications. Oregon would not have been a preseason top 25 team if Brooks and Dorsey left. But they’re both back.

Brooks was Oregon’s best player last season.

Dorsey could be one of the five best sophomores in American next season.

Dillon Brooks is back. He’ll probably be one of the best players in America.

This puts Oregon in the hunt for the Pac-12 title once again. Dana Altman’s team earned a No. 1 seed last season, going 31-7 and losing in the Elite Eight to Buddy Hield and Oklahoma. Brooks averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Dorsey had a 13.4-point, 4.3-rebound and 2.0-assist clip as a freshman.

What we’re seeing here is, with so many players testing NBA waters, a bevy of really talented college guys are making the right decisions in coming back. Hopefully they’ve learned a bit over the past six weeks, and with all of these returnees, we get more publicity and awareness of college basketball’s best teams in late May. This is a new wrinkle to the sport’s calendar and news cycle.

For Oregon, just one big piece remains. Dylan Ennis has requested a sixth year of eligibility. Ennis injured his foot early last season and wound up playing in just two games for the Ducks. If Ennis is deemed eligible (which seems reasonable), then Oregon will have a case for being a preseason top-five team.


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