Dillon Brooks

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 28: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks hits the game winning shot over Lonzo Ball #2 and Bryce Alford #20 of the UCLA Bruins on December 28, 2016 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Player of the Week: Dillon Brooks, Oregon

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This week, for the first time all season, Oregon looked like the team that we all had projected in the preseason top five and as a potential Final Four contender. They beat No. 2 UCLA at home, putting an end to their undefeated run this season, before blowing out No. 22 USC on Friday, who also entered that game without a loss on their résumé.

There were a handful of things behind Oregon’s improvement – the Ducks started shooting the ball well from the perimeter, Dylan Ennis played as well as he has all season, they finally had their full complement of players all healthy at the same time – but the biggest difference between this Oregon and the Oregon that lost to Georgetown and got blown out by Baylor is simple: Dillon Brooks looked like Dillon Brooks again.

The preseason all-american played like, well, an all-american in the two wins this week, setting a season-high with 23 points to go along with nine boards and four assists in the win over UCLA before he went for 28 points on 9-for-10 shooting in the win over USC.

And should I mention that he hit the game-winner with 0.7 seconds left to beat the Bruins?

Those games were just the third and fourth games, respectively, that he has started this season due to a slow recovery process coming back from an offseason foot injury. Early in the year, he was still working on getting back in shape and getting his legs under him. I’d say that, at this point, we can pretty safely say that Brooks is back to 100 percent, and when he’s healthy, Oregon is good enough to win the Pac-12.

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Dwayne Bacon, Florida State: After scoring 23 points on Wednesday to lead the Seminoles past Wake Forest, the 6-foot-6 sophomore had a career-high 29 points in a win at No. 12 Virginia. He scored 26 of those 29 points in the second half – only once in his career had he scored more than 26 points before Saturday – and added the game-winning three with 2.0 seconds left for good measure. Not a bad week.
  • Nate Mason, Minnesota: Minnesota made something of a statement on Sunday, going into West Lafayette and knocking off No. 15 Purdue despite the fact that Caleb Swanigan went off for 28 points and 22 boards. Mason led the was, finishing with 31 points, 11 assists and six boards in an overtime win.
  • Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Brunson was the best player on the floor for No. 1 Villanova on Saturday, as they went into Omaha and knocked off No. 10 Creighton. Brunson finished with 27 points, and five assists, hitting 10-for-14 from the floor and going on a solo 11-0 run in the first half to buoy the Wildcats as Creighton jumped out to an early double-digit lead. He also had 13 points and six assists in a win over DePaul on Wednesday.
  • Josh Okogie, Georgia Tech:A 6-foot-4 freshman playing his first-ever ACC game, Okogie popped off for 26 points and five boards as the Ramblin’ Wreck went to 1-0 in league play with an impressive win over No. 9 North Carolina.
  • Edmond Sumner, Xavier: Sumner kicked off the week with 13 points and seven assists in a blowout win over Providence, following that up with 28 points, eight assists and six boards, his best game as a collegian, in a win at Georgetown on Saturday. Perhaps more impressive is that the Musketeers badly needed that kind of a performance from Sumner on Saturday; their leading scorer, Trevon Bluiett, was 0-for-10 from the floor.

Dillon Brooks to return to Oregon’s lineup tonight

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24:  Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks dunks the ball in the first half while taking on the Duke Blue Devils in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at the Honda Center on March 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
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The good news for Oregon is that they should be getting their all-american Dillon Brooks back this week.

The bad news?

He’s still not going to be at 100 percent.

After multiple reports over the weekend that Brooks would be available for the Maui Invitational, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m. on Monday for the Ducks, head coach Dana Altman finally confirmed that Brooks would be available to play, according to ESPN.

The expectation is that Brooks will give the Ducks around 10 minutes off the bench.

“We will play Dillon on the exact schedule the doctor gives us,” Altman said. “You have to gradually come back.”

Brooks is a preseason all-american that averaged 16.7 points for the Ducks last season. He has been out with a foot injury since the summer.

The Ducks mustered all of 49 points in a 17 point loss at Baylor last week.

Baylor knocks off No. 4 Oregon

Baylor guard Ishmail Wainright (24) saves the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, March 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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It didn’t take long for Dillon Brooks’ absence to be felt by Oregon. Nor did it take long for Baylor to look like one of the Big 12’s best.

The fourth-ranked Ducks fell to the unranked Bears, 66-49, in Waco on Tuesday afternoon to take an early blemish with their All-American junior still sidelined with a foot injury.

Oregon (1-1) was stifled offensively throughout the game shooting 32.8 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range as the Ducks made just three of their 21 attempts from beyond the arc.

Certainly, the Bears (2-0) deserve plenty of credit for putting the clamps on Oregon as their zone has confounded plenty of programs over the years with its length and unpredictability. It’s one of the most unique defenses in the sport, and certainly not easy to prepare for, especially for the first time.

Baylor’s performance looks even less dependent on Oregon’s personnel when Johnathan Motley goes for 17 points and seven rebounds, looking like an All-American, and Manu Lecomte adds 18 points and seven assists, looking like the point guard the Bears desperately need this season. Jo Lual-Acuil is asserting himself as a major asset in that zone with seven blocks.

This, without a doubt, was an early statement win for Baylor.

Still, it’s impossible not to wonder how large Brooks’ absence loomed. You remove a 16-point scorer who shot 47 percent overall and 33.8 percent from 3-point range plus who has the size to combat Baylor’s, it’s going to make things more difficult. Tyler Dorsey was just 4 of 14 from the floor while Dylan Ennis went 5 of 13.

This is without question a more important result for Baylor than it is for Oregon. The Bears get credit because they looked so strong, but the Ducks won’t be fully docked given Brooks was unable to suit up.

And the good news for Oregon is it sounds like Brooks will be back in action before too long. Fran Fraschilla, who was in Waco to call the game for ESPN, tweeted he believed Brooks would be ready to go within a week after watching him practice.

Report: Oregon’s Brooks “almost certain” to miss start of season

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks celebrates during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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Oregon will start this upcoming season with national title aspirations. The Ducks may also start the season without one of their stars.

It is “almost certain” that the foot surgery undergone this summer by Dillon Brooks will keep him out of the lineup when Oregon opens the season in November, the Register-Guard reports.

“That’s up to the doctors and we will be real conservative with it,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “As much as we want to win those early games and have him ready to go, the majority of our games are in January, February, and March, hopefully.

“We’re going to have to really adjust some things not knowing exactly when he’s going to be back. If you think to last year’s team, we had Elgin (Cook) and Dillon and Dwayne (Benjamin) , three guys in the 6-6 range. Now we just have Keith Smith, an unproven freshman, so that is a big void.”

Oregon’s non-conference schedule is built to help the Ducks with seeding as the Ducks have Baylor (Nov 15), the Maui Invitational that guarantees games against Georgetown and either Tennessee or Wisconsin (Nov. 21-22),  Alabama (Dec. 11) and UNLV (Dec. 17). The Ducks will certainly have plenty of firepower without Brooks, but his absence for a big chunk of the non-conference could have ramifications further down the line. The even scarier proposition for the Ducks is if it sidelines him deeper into the season. Given Brooks’ injury has already been an issue for months, it’s becoming one of the more interesting and impactful subplots of the off-season.

Brooks, who declared for the NBA draft before deciding to return to school,  averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Ducks last year.

Oregon’s Brooks undergoes foot surgery

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
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The mysterious foot injury ailing Oregon star Dillon Brooks has taken a bit of an ominous turn.

The 6-foot-6 junior underwent surgery last week and will not participate in the team’s upcoming tour of Spain, Steve Mims of the Register Guard reported Monday.

There’s still be no clarification of the exact nature of the injury other than coach Dana Altman saying last month that Brooks did not have a broken foot. There’s currently no timetable for his return, according to Mims.

We’re still months away from the start of the 2016-17 season so there’s plenty of time for Brooks to recover from his injury – whatever it is – but it’s hard not to be concerned about his health now that’s he’s spent the whole of the summer off the court. The Ducks are a likely top-five preseason team and Brooks’ decision to forego the NBA and return – along with his 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game – is a big reason why,

Whatever the extent of Brooks’ injury and the invasiveness of the surgery, this has not been the summer the Ducks were hoping for. Whether it will impact their hopes for the upcoming season will remain to be seen.

Ducks’ Brooks sidelined with foot injury

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Oregon got Dillon Brooks to return to school for his junior year, but it currently doesn’t have him back on the court. The 6-foot-7 All-Pac-12 performer has been held out of summer workouts dealing with an unspecified foot injury.

“He has had a problem with his foot so we have held him out,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said Tuesday, according to The Register-Guard. “He is still under evaluation to see what the next step is.”

Altman said Brooks, an NBCSports.com second-team preseason All-American, doesn’t have a broken foot, but otherwise was vague as to the exact nature of the injury.

“It is too early to tell,” Altman said. “I have not heard from the doctors one way or another. We are trying to give him and the doctors time to figure out which way to go.”

Brooks decided to take advantage of new NCAA legislation this past spring and declared for the NBA Draft before ultimately deciding in late May to return to the Ducks. That decision is a large reason why we have Oregon slotted fifth in our Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25.  

While it certainly too soon and there is not enough information to draw any serious conclusions about the severity of the injury, the fact that Brooks, who averaged 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season, isn’t practicing and there isn’t yet a diagnosis is certainly a situation worth closely monitoring, given Brooks’ importance to the Ducks, and, consequently, the larger college basketball landscape.