Following a year where Oregon basketball failed to make the NCAA Tournament for just the fourth time in Altman’s previous 12 years of coaching and a mass changing of its coaching staff, Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks signed the No. 7 ranked recruiting class in 2023.
The class featured two five-star prospects in forwards Kwame Evans and Mookie Cook, and an elite point guard in four-star Jackson Shelstad. How the Ducks did, it is pretty simple.
“We’re still the University of Oregon,” said Altman.
The model of success at Oregon helped pave the way for Oregon to sign yet another elite recruiting class for the men’s program. All three players are expected to make an instant impact for the Ducks when they arrive ahead of next season.
“Really excited. Jackson and Mookie because they are from here in the state, we’ve known them from a long time; they’ve come to our camps since they were in Junior High. Those two guys were a long time coming. They are both guys that want to be at the University of Oregon, and they have tremendous upsides.
“KJ is someone that’s been on our radar for a couple of years. I really love his skill level. He is really basketball-savvy for a guy his size. He can shoot the three, a really good passer. As he gets stronger, I think you’ll see him make even more plays.”
Shelstad plays his prep basketball at Oregon powerhouse West Linn high school, the same program that produced former Duck All-American and current NBA player Payton Pritchard. Altman said his shooting has improved, his work ethic rivals Payton Pritchard, and his playmaking ability on the court will be a big help for the Ducks.
“He’s going to make everyone around him better,” said Altman.
Cook played his first two years of high school basketball at Jefferson high school in Portland and will now finish his career at the high school level playing in the state of Arizona at national powerhouse prep school AZ Compass Prep. At 6-foot-7, Cook will be the next five-star wing to play for Altman.
“Mookie is a fantastic athlete, he needs to continue to improve his skill level, and I really like the progress he’s made and will make,” said Altman.
What’s next for the Ducks? Altman’s roster this season features six players who are seniors and on scholarship. Those players are point guard Will Richardson, guard Jermaine Couisnard and Rivaldo Soares, forward Quincy Guerrier, and center N’Faly Dante. Every player but Richardson has a free year of eligibility to use if they want to due to the NCAA awarding an extra year to players on a college roster during the 2020-21 season.
“I have no idea. I wish I knew,” said Altman. “A couple of guys have covid decisions they have to make. The transfer portal. It’s a different game. You really don’t know who is in it. We have to stay flexible. You have to do some kind of recruiting every day to kind of protect yourself. I don’t know how many guys we’ll have back, how the season will go. Guys have a lot more opportunities now, a lot more choices now. You don’t have to sit out now.”
The Ducks are considered one of the favorites to land the commitment of Top 50 prospect and four-star combo guard Bronny James, the son of future NBA Hall of Famer LeBron James. He’s the only known prospect in the 2023 class the Ducks are still heavily involved in recruiting.