- After an inconsistent season snapped Oregon's five-year NCAA tournament streak, the Ducks could be right back in Pac-12 contention after the arrival of a top-three recruiting class led by Bol Bol and Louis King.
In the one-and-done era, college basketball fans have grown accustomed to having to get to know a slew of new, highly-touted names and faces each season, many of whom will spend just one year on campus before moving on to the NBA. Just look at the 2018 draft, where it took 10 picks before Mikal Bridges became the first non-freshman (or international) to be selected. Not all elite freshmen will pan out, but history dictates that many of them will help headline the sport for the next year—and, for some, maybe even beyond.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. The rankings are according to RSCI Hoops, a composite that averages from 25 different expert top-100 lists. We move to the No. 20 and No. 6 overall recruits, Oregon's Louis King and Bol Bol, respectively.
What they mean for Oregon’s recruiting class
Bol Bol, the top-ranked center in the class of 2018 and a near consensus lottery pick for 2019, is Oregon’s highest-rated recruit in history. Bol gives the Ducks' third-ranked recruiting class a tremendous boost with his No. 6 overall ranking, as does 6’8” standout small forward Louis King (No. 20 in the RSCI rankings). King, a New Jersey native, and Bol, a Sudanese seven-footer, add needed depth to the Ducks' frontcourt. The two-five start recruits will be joined by three four-star players in shooting guard Will Richardson (No. 40), center Francis Okoro and power forward Miles Norris (No. 66). Bol alone is an impressive get for Oregon, but the complement of King, a skilled wing and another potential 2019 NBA prospect, and Norris, gives the Ducks tons of talent down low. Oregon’s 2017 recruit class was ranked 13th in the nation, but despite that, the Ducks struggled. They finished the season in a disappointing sixth place in the Pac-12, unable to find a rhythm. The 2018 recruiting class should, however, bring the reinforcements that Oregon needs and provide a reason for renewed optimism.
How they fit
After losing one-and-done small forward Troy Brown Jr. to the draft, Louis King will have an immediate role in Dana Altman’s lineup at the wing. Bol will as well by default, as a talented big man with an above-average ability to shoot. After losing three of their top four scorers (MiKyle McIntosh, Elijah Brown and Troy Brown Jr.), the Ducks will need both recruits to get buckets right away. Bol is the son of former NBA player Manute Bol, and, although five inches shorter than his late father, he’s still a talented shot-blocker. For someone his size he’s also a surprisingly adept shooter, especially at the perimeter. He shot 48.9% from three-point range on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer, proving that he’s farther along in his shooting ability than most young bigs. The downside: the 7’2” center is a spindly 220 pounds, with a frame reminiscent of a young Kevin Durant. Bol, like Durant, probably won’t be putting on tons of muscle mass in the near future, but expect to see him in Altman’s lineup alongside 6’9” senior Paul White. Altman’s positionless play also serves King well, as he may be more of a combo-forward than a natural wing. King, who has a solid jump shot and an ability to finish around the rim, could also grow into being more of a consistent playmaker and reliable weapon on the perimeter. While it’s unknown exactly where or how King will be used, Altman won’t waste his potential.
Importance to Oregon's success/team outlook
King and Bol both struggle with consistency, but given the caliber of their talent they should be able to compensate with skill alone as they adjust to the college game. If Bol can improve his energy and strengthen his shooting while King refines his game all-around, the Ducks have an even better shot at being a true Pac-12 contender after a disappointing 2017–18 season. Altman has a young but gifted group on his hands once again, but with a little more natural ability in this year’s recruits and some finessing, Oregon should have a stronger season this year.