Canadian Trio Hopes to Lead Oregon to National Championship
March Madness is one of the biggest events on American soil, a tournament that showcases some of the brightest basketball prospects in the game today. One of the schools entering this year’s 68-team pool, is the University of Oregon.
The Oregon Ducks haven’t won a National Championship since 1939, the year the Second World War began. Entering the tournament as the no. 3 seed out of the Midwest region, the Oregon Ducks hope to break the curse. Their journey begins on Friday against the 14th ranked, Iona.
But what makes this Oregon team special is not that it has the explosive super prospects that the likes of Duke and Kentucky seemingly recycle year in and year out. They are not led by the best talent that America has to offer. The Oregon Ducks are led by not one, or two, but three Canadian products, two of which will attempt to push the Ducks to it’s first National Championship in 78-long years.
A key piece that will be missing from the Oregon puzzle is Chris Boucher, a senior centre from Montreal, who tore his ACL in a semifinals match against California. The big man has a polished game. He was a great rim protector, a solid defender, with a smooth outside touch. His absence will only put more pressure on two Ontario kids, who will hope to push Oregon to the title.
Dillon Brooks, a Mississauga native, leads the charge for the Ducks. The 6’7” junior is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 16.0-points per game on the year. A potential late first, or early second round prospect in the 2017 NBA Draft, Brooks transformed from the hothead he was in his early Oregon tenure into a leader both on and off the court.
A much improved overall game and outside shot, Brooks is an elite athlete and a natural scorer who has led his Ducks to wins over some of the best teams in the nation, including on a clutch buzzer-beating three-pointer against Lonzo Ball and the UCLA Bruins.
On the floor with the brass Junior is Dylan Ennis, a graduate student out of Brampton, Ontario. Only a year ago, the point guard watched from the sideline as Villanova, the school he transferred from, went onto win a National Championship. Granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA due to missing all but 21-minutes last season with a broken foot, Ennis has come back with a purpose, and alongside his Brooks, is ready to lead the Ducks in the NCAA Tournament.
Starting every game, Ennis has averaged a career best 10.8-points while shooting nearly 40% from deep. He has also dished out 3.2-assists per game this past season. On the defensive end, Ennis is just as valuable. With age and experience, Ennis has also brought leadership to a team that hopes to rebound after being ousted out of last year’s tournament in the Elite 8 by the Oklahoma Sooners.
“[Ennis] is our most versatile guard. He’s physical enough to guard bigger guys,” Coach Dana Altman told Sports Illustrated.
It is no question that the Oregon Ducks will be led by the two Canucks. Boucher will be missed sorely, but this is a team that trusts its leadership and with the Canadian duo of Brooks and Ennis leading maybe the Ducks can finally break the 78-year college basketball championship curse.