Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Oregon’s Canada Pipeline is Paying Off as Ducks Ready for Final Four
The Canada-to-Oregon pipeline under Dana Altman dates back to 2011, when the Ducks landed a pair of Canadian transfers in Devoe Joseph (Minnesota) and Olu Ashaolu (Louisiana Tech).
During Altman’s seven years at the Pac-12 school, Oregon has featured seven Canadians, including the current trio of Dillon Brooks, Chris Boucher and Dylan Ennis. While Boucher is out with an injury, Brooks and Ennis have been driving forces as the Ducks have marched to their first Final Four since 1939, when FDR was in the White House.
Oregon will face North Carolina in one national semifinal on Saturday in Glendale, Ariz., while South Carolina meets Gonzaga in the other.
“It started with Devoe Joseph and Olu Ashaolu our second year here,” Altman said. “We started a pipeline. And they’ve done a great job for us.”
The 6-foot-7 Brooks out of Mississauga, Ontario, is averaging 16.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in four NCAA Tournament wins over Iona, Rhode Island, Michigan and Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest.
The 6-2 Ennis, a native of Brampton, Ontario and the older brother of Houston Rockets point guard Tyler Ennis, is averaging 8.5 points and 2.5 assists during the run.
The 6-10 Boucher, a Montreal native, was averaging 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks before suffering an ACL tear earlier this month.
“The three [Canadians] on this year’s team, Dillon Brooks and Dylan Ennis and Chris Boucher were a huge part of our team,” Altman said. “All three of them over the last two years, Dillon Brooks for three years, have been a big part of whatever we’ve accomplished. They’ve been great to work with.”
Brooks committed to Oregon in August 2014 out of prep power Findlay (NV) Prep and has turned into a major steal. He was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and on Monday was named to the 10-man Wooden All-America Team.
“We looked at Oregon and it was a conversation between myself and Dillon and his mom where there was a lot of schools recruiting him but the schools that were recruiting him played in conferences where Dillon was a lot like a lot of players,” CIA Bounce director Tony McIntyre, also Ennis’ father, said on The 4 Quarters Podcast. “When we looked at the Pac-12, we were like there’s not a lot of guys like him.
“He becomes a really big mismatch and he’s able to kind of be himself and play at the four and pop out pull four out and it just seemed like a great fit there, where he was going to be very unique in the Pac-12. And I think it’s played out exactly the way we wanted it to play out. And it’s great to see him turn himself from that high school kid that was just happy to have scholarship offers into a kid that’s the Pac-12 Player of the Year and put himself in line to play in the NBA.”
Brooks is now projected as the No. 38 pick in the NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com.
While Boucher, Ennis and possibly Brooks could all be gone next season, Oregon will have yet another Canadian on the roster when 6-7 forward Abu Kigab arrives.
Kigab is a 6-7 wing who was born in the Sudan but lived in Canada for 10 years and is now at Prolific Prep (CA). He can play and defend the 1-4 positions and was attracted to Oregon because of their Canadian connection.
“It’s a good connection,” he said when he committed. “Oregon started a pipeline to Canada and I want to be one of those players in that great dynasty. It’s going to be really great. One of my really close friend Dillon Brooks went there. He’s kind of like a big brother to me, so I talk to him about everything. I told him a little while back that I really wanted to come there.
“Most likely I don’t think he’s going to be there but if he’s there we’re gonna jell. It’s gonna be fine.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.