If you asked the Pac-12 media where the Oregon Ducks would be at this point in the 2012/2013 college basketball season before the year started, you would be hard pressed to find anybody who would have predicted that Oregon would be standing at the top of the Pac-12 with a perfect 5-0 record in conference play and 16-2 record overall.
Using a talented roster filled with young players to compliment their impressive veterans, the Ducks have climbed the rankings throughout the year, now rated as the No. 16 team according to the AP Top 25.
This year marks the first year since 2007 that Oregon has found itself in the Top 25 of college basketball, a ranking that is more than deserved with the way the Ducks have handled themselves on the court.
Oregon is coming off of a weekend that saw them play very impressively against the Los Angeles schools – USC and UCLA. While the Ducks did let the Trojans make a game of it towards the end, they used a great second-half effort against the Bruins to give Oregon a convincing 76-67 over a UCLA team that was on the rebound themselves.
Though credit is due to all the players who have rotated through the lineup this season, there are a select few players that have exceeded their expectations and helped the Ducks to become one of the most dangerous teams in college basketball. That being said, on every overachiever list you have to have an underachiever, somebody that will be outlined in this article as well.
Damyean Dotson has been the biggest surprise for the Ducks during their 2012/2013 campaign. Rated as a three-star prospect and the No. 40 small forward in ESPN’s 2012 college basketball recruiting rankings, the Houston native has exceeded expectations as he has transitioned perfectly into Dana Altman’s offense that focuses on getting the ball to multiple playmakers.
Dotson is currently Oregon’s leader in points, putting up 11.9 points per game. While this is fairly off the national leaderboard, being able to put up this number in Altman’s system is very impressive.
The young freshman is also proving his durability early-on in his career as he averages 27.7 minutes per game, good enough for second-best on the team behind veteran E.J. Singler. Besides minutes and points, Dotson is also shaping up to be one of the more well-rounded players on the team.
He averages 3.8 rebounds per game, doles out 1.1 assists per game, and can contribute from long range or inside; all signs of a versatile player that will be extremely useful as Oregon continues their rebound season.
Arsalan Kazemi is one of those player who has already proven his worth but continues to impress those who come out to watch him. A transfer from Rice, Kazemi has helped the Ducks ascend to the next level and challenge the rest of the Pac-12 while elevating his status as a big-time player.
While he may put up 8.3 points per game, Kazemi’s value comes in rebounds, where he hauls in 9.6 rebounds per game, a number good enough to make him 26th in the nation in that category.
He also provides another force in the middle to compliment the impressive Tony Woods, giving the Ducks a dual-threat that they had been lacking for a few years. Combined together, Woods and Kazemi are able to draw defenders off of Oregon’s perimeter players and allow them to create more opportunities for the Ducks to outscore their opponents.
Heading into the 2012/2013 season Carlos Emory was slotted to be a 6th man for the Oregon Ducks that would come in and play valuable time when the starters needed their rest. After starting the season off impressively, Emory quickly rotated into the starting lineup where he has continued his production and impressive play.
Averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game, the second-year player for the Ducks (previously at Howard College) brings a passion to the floor that energizes the Oregon offensive and defensive attacks. He’s a smart player that has transitioned well into being a starter and should continue to develop as the season goes on.
If there was any underachiever on this Oregon basketball team it would be Jonathan Loyd. Still, it is tough to argue that he has underperformed as other players have stepped up and he has played his role on the team nearly perfectly.
That being said, there has always been the want of Loyd to grow into a better player for the Ducks, one resembling Tajuan Porter. One of Oregon’s more dynamic players in recent history, Porter was a force from the perimeter and in the assist column, putting up impressive numbers despite his small stature.
While many still do enjoy the way Loyd moves the ball across the court and the energy he provides, his numbers could be a little better for a third-year player.