Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer 603d

With 7 players leaving, Oregon's Dana Altman has to rebuild

Men's College Basketball, Oregon Ducks

EUGENE, Ore. -- If the Oregon Ducks want to follow up their first Final Four appearance in 78 years with another one next season, coach Dana Altman will have to work some roster magic.

The Ducks will lose seven players from last season's 33-win team as three have entered the NBA draft (Tyler Dorsey, Dillon Brooks, Jordan Bell), two are graduating (Chris Boucher, Dylan Ennis), one is transferring (Casey Benson), and another (Kavell Bigby-Williams) has applied to transfer.

Altman said he expected both Dorsey and Brooks to declare for the NBA draft, but wasn't sure what Bell would do. He also said he saw how down Benson was after Altman benched him in favor of freshman guard Payton Pritchard -- the only definite returning contributor for the 2017-18 season -- so his departure wasn't a huge surprise, either.

"Those guys, I really feel good for all of them," Altman said. "The three guys who left early. The two guys who were seniors. Casey has made a decision for himself, but that's what he wants. Kavell wants to look at some things."

Bigby-Williams stepped in for Boucher during the postseason after a season-ending injury.

With all the departures, Oregon will be an inexperienced team in 2017-18, but not one without talent.

The Ducks will add freshman forward M.J. Cage, who was injured last season, and junior forward Paul White, who sat out following a transfer from Georgetown. Altman said the additions will "give us some size. ... Both will give us some minutes next year." 

Altman said he has been hitting the recruiting trail hard to add to a class that already features the nation's No. 4 small forward, Troy Brown Jr., as well as Victor Bailey Jr. (No. 21 shooting guard) and Abu Kigab (No. 29 small forward). Altman also noted he's very open to the idea of adding graduate transfers, which has worked out well for the Ducks of late.

"We are on some very talented young men," Altman said. "We still have to get them to campus here, but we're on some guys that are very talented no matter where they're ranked. Right fit. Right work ethic."

Altman knows his players will face some early challenges and have opportunities to prove themselves in 2017-18. The Ducks are one of 16 teams that will compete in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland in late November. The schedule has yet to be announced, but Duke, UNC, Gonzaga and Michigan State will all be in attendance.

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