Wednesday November 2nd, 2016

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2016, issue of Sports Illustrated. Subscribe to the magazine here. Find the rest of our college basketball preview package here.

Dylan Ennis seemed like the unluckiest player in college basketball last season. After the 6' 2" guard transferred from Villanova to Oregon in the summer of 2015, he suffered a broken left foot that limited his senior year to just two games—and then watched as his former team won a national championship. But on June 30, Ennis finally caught a break: The NCAA granted him a medical redshirt, allowing him to play one more season for the Ducks, who’ve amassed enough veteran talent to be even more of a title contender than they were in 2015–16, when they reached the Elite Eight.

Ennis left Villanova because he wanted a full-time point guard gig, but he has warmed to the idea of being a backcourt Swiss Army knife in Eugene—sharing floor-general duties with 6' 3" junior incumbent Casey Benson (who is projected to score 5.7 points and dish out 2.7 assists) as well as assuming off-ball roles. “[Ennis] is our most versatile guard,” says coach Dana Altman. “When we go small, he’s physical enough to guard bigger guys, and on offense, we plan on putting him in a lot of different situations. He can shoot the three, get to the rim, get involved in some pick-and-roll situations [and do] more ballhandling.”

It wasn’t until the Ducks’ exhibition tour of Spain, in August, that Ennis felt as if he were finally back from his injury. On the second possession of their opening game, in Madrid, he drove off of a ball screen, and, he recalls, “everything just slowed down.” Ennis pulled up and sank a three-pointer. The shot “was the first time where I scored at 100% in an Oregon jersey,” he says. “I was like, O.K., I’m actually playing.”   

College Basketball
Pac-12 preview: Oregon, Arizona could be Final Four contenders

X-Factor: Junior forward Dillon Brooks

At full strength Dillon Brooks, who led the Ducks in scoring (16.7 ppg) and assists (3.1) last season, is a Wooden Award candidate, but he has yet to be cleared after surgery in July on his left foot.

Coach’s Take: Dana Altman

“We run a two-guard front, and there’s going to be some competition for who handles the ball. I have no idea who will be the starters and which roles they’ll fill. Tyler Dorsey handled it some last year, Casey Benson handled it a lot, and now [we add] Payton Pritchard and Dylan [Ennis]. Last year we didn’t have any depth at the guard spots. . . . We usually go between two or three different presses, but last year we kind of just stayed in one. We weren’t as diversified as I’d like to be. I’d like to change it up a little bit more this season. . . . [In the halfcourt], the zone we played last year did keep our shot blockers around the basket. In Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell we have two really good shot-blockers returning, and now with [6' 11" junior-college transfer] Kavell Bibgy-Williams, we’re adding a third.”

Projected Top Seven Scorers

Name Class Pos. PPG RPG APG ORtg Volume Mins
Dillon Brooks Jr SF 17.2 5.7 2.9 117.0 26% 82%
Tyler Dorsey So SG 12.9 3.9 1.9 117.6 21% 70%
Chris Boucher Sr PF 12.5 7.0 0.6 129.1 20% 66%
Dylan Ennis Sr PG 9.8 3.0 2.7 113.6 21% 65%
Jordan Bell Jr PF 8.3 5.8 1.4 114.1 19% 57%
Kavell Bigby-Williams Jr PF 6.9 4.3 0.5 107.6 20% 43%
Casey Benson Jr PG 5.7 2.2 2.7 126.1 12% 60%

Projected Pac-12 Standings

Conference Rank Team Proj. Conf. Record ’15-16 Conf. Record
1 Oregon 14–4 14–4
2 Arizona 13–5 12–6
3 UCLA 11–7 6–12
4 California 11–7 12–6
5 USC 9–9 9–9
6 Utah 9–9 13–5
7 Colorado 8–10 10–8
8 Washington 8–10 9–9
9 Oregon State 7–11 9–9
10 Stanford 7–11 8–10
11 Arizona State 7–11 5–13
12 Washington State 4–14 1–17

More scouting reports: 1. Duke | 2. Kansas | 3. Kentucky | 5. Villanova | 6. North Carolina | 7. Virginia | 8. Wisconsin | 9. Gonzaga | 10. Arizona | 11. Purdue | 12. Xavier | 13. Louisville | 14. Syracuse | 15. Indiana | 16. UCLA | 17. California | 18. NC State | 19. West Virginia | 20. UConn

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