EUGENE — Bol Bol was Oregon’s only plug-and-play freshman.
The other four members of the team’s top-five men’s basketball recruiting class have needed more time to find their role in the rotation, for a variety of reasons.
Before Bol’s season-ending foot surgery, Louis King was Oregon’s main injury concern when the five-star freshman missed the first seven games while recovering from a knee injury suffered in high school. King played limited minutes during his first few games with the Ducks, as did point guard Will Richardson after he was finally cleared for the season-opener against Portland State despite missing the final few weeks of preseason practice with a foot injury.
Power forward Francis Okoro played 35 minutes in his first two games, but he did not combine to match that total in the next six outings. Forward Miles Norris sat out the first nine games while being slated to redshirt before deciding to play this season when he debuted Dec. 15 against Boise State.
With Oregon down to eight healthy scholarship players, the four remaining freshmen will all likely play in each game at least until forward Kenny Wooten returns from a broken jaw in a few weeks.
King had his best game for the Ducks in Saturday’s 77-72 home loss to Oregon State, with season highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“Louis is really talented,” said Paul White, Oregon senior. “Not just with his points, but making small plays. We relied on him a lot and he came through.”
King is shooting 32.8 percent from the field, but after 4-for-6 shooting in his first game against Nebraska-Omaha, he has not shot better than 40 percent in a game. Without Bol and Wooten, King is Oregon’s top rebounder at 4.7 per game.
“Louis is going to be a good player for us,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
Richardson started five straight games before coming off the bench in the last two games since Wooten was injured. He is averaging 6.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Richardson has not attempted more than seven shots in a game and has taken only five shots in 49 minutes during the past two games. He has a total of two assists in the past two games.
“He is someone who can get to the basket,” Altman said. “I think he can create plays for somebody.”
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Okoro had a total of 14 points and 11 rebounds in his first two games, but he did not combine to exceed those totals in his next eight games. He has 11 rebounds in the last two games, but he has gone scoreless while missing all five shots from the field.
Norris has played in four games and had four points and three rebounds in 16 minutes against the Beavers. He had four fouls for the second game in a row, giving him eight fouls in 23 minutes during the past two games.
“Miles did good things,” Altman said. “He was pretty productive. Foul trouble obviously, but his activity was pretty good.”
Slow starts for Ducks
Oregon has trailed by at least 11 points at halftime in four of its five losses. The Ducks trailed 38-25 at halftime against the Beavers before outscoring Oregon State 47-39 in the second half.
“It’s about the first half and putting ourselves in a better position,” White said. “We have to do a better job going forward so we don’t dig such a big hole.”
In other losses, Oregon trailed Iowa 39-28 at the break and Houston 37-18 before trailing Baylor 28-16. The Ducks outscored each of those teams in the second half.
“That has been our MO, we don’t play very well in the first half and get down,” Altman said. “We get down and we try to come back in the second half.”
Wooten on the mend
Wooten announced on Twitter he broke his jaw in the loss at Baylor on Dec. 21 and he went back to social media to update his status Monday.
“Getting fitted for a face mask,” Wooten posted on Twitter. “Trying to get back as soon as possible!”
Altman initially indicated Wooten will likely be out another two to four weeks.
“We’ve got to play with what we’ve got and then hopefully we do get him back sometime,” the coach said following the loss to Oregon State.