Gonzaga will spend another week atop the USA TODAY Sports coaches poll.
USA TODAY Sports
Each week leading to Selection Sunday, USA TODAY Sports’ college basketball staff is highlighting a player to watch for in March and the most influential matchups of the upcoming weekend.
DILLON BROOKS, OREGON JUNIOR FORWARD
Vital stats: 6-7, 225 pounds.
This season (through Feb. 4): 14.4 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.0 rpg, 50.7% FG. Six 20-plus point games. (Missed the season’s first three games due to injury.)
Single-game spotlight: Oregon’s shellacking of then-No. 5 Arizona last weekend was a team effort, but it’s worth highlighting Brooks’s contribution all the same. As part of a record-setting performance beyond the arc, Brooks made 4-of-7 three-pointers in just 22 minutes of action. Tyler Dorsey made 6-of-6. Casey Benson made 3-of-5. Chris Boucher made 2-of-3. The Ducks won by 27.
What they’re saying: ”If they have another level above that, that’s a bad thing for every team in the country,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after the Wildcats’ loss.
What to expect come March: There’s a reason Oregon was hyped up as a potential Final Four team before the season — and we saw that when the Ducks played the Wildcats. Brooks is a huge part of this, one of the most integral pieces of a talented roster that Dana Atlman put together in, what is for him, unique fashion. It’s not simply a bunch of transfers and grad transfers; it’s players who have grown and developed within the program.
Brooks, a preseason first-team USA TODAY Sports All-American, is starting to peak personally at just the right time. Last week, he averaged 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in Oregon’s sweep of the Arizona schools while shooting 67% from the field.
If he keeps this up — or anything remotely close to it — the Ducks could very well get themselves a step further than their Elite Eight appearance a season ago, and they could carry Altman to his first Final Four.
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