There won’t be any hard feelings when Oregon and Tyler Dorsey take the court against Kansas on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.
And there shouldn’t be — although coach Bill Self would have liked Dorsey to suit up in KU blue for the Elite Eight game between the top-seeded Jayhawks (31-4) and No. 3 Ducks (32-5) at 7:49 p.m.
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Dorsey, a sophomore from Pasadena, Calif., (Maranatha High) who was ESPN’s 38th-overall prospect in the Class of 2015, received an offer from Kansas and even sat next to future Jayhawk Carlton Bragg during Late Night at the Phog in 2014, with current NBA rookies Brandon Ingram and Stephen Zimmerman on his other side.
Shortly after, Dorsey visited Eugene, Ore., and was enchanted by the Ducks’ Dana Altman, a coach Self has known since he was an assistant at Oklahoma State and Altman an assistant at Kansas State in the 1980s.
Losing that battle doesn’t weigh on Self’s mind these days. He got Bragg, Cheick Diallo and Lagerald Vick out of the Class of 2015. None of them were consolation prizes.
From afar, by way of Landen Lucas’ family ties to the Ducks, Dorsey has stayed on Self’s —and the nation’s — radar. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard, whom the Ducks are now calling “Mr. March,” has hardly given opponents rest this postseason, scoring at least 20 points in each of Oregon’s last six games.
Dorsey’s game-winning three-point shot with 38 seconds remaining against Rhode Island in the second round propelled the Ducks to where they are now: A second-straight Elite Eight berth and the chance to, like KU, redeem last year’s regional championship loss.
“We wanted Tyler, bad. I just thought he was a guard that could play on the ball and off the ball, and certainly that's played out to be 100 percent accurate,” Self said Friday. “He's a point guard that can shoot and score. …We really liked him. A lot. Unfortunately he didn't like us as much. But what a great choice he made (going to Oregon).”
Dorsey is shooting 46.5 percent from the field, the best of all Oregon’s regular starters (junior Dillon Brooks shoots 50 percent but has only started 25 of Oregon’s 37 games). In two years, Dorsey has had 16 games of 20 or more points and has been a key piece in leading the Ducks back to the Elite Eight a second consecutive year for the first time in program history.
With KU’s longtime success, Dorsey never would have been able to rewrite records the same way. It wasn’t tough to choose Oregon — and he’s not going to dwell on it when he faces the coach and team he might have played with in an alternate reality.
“I don’t even look back at that,” Dorsey said. “It was a good visit, it was a good recruiting experience. … But I really wanted to stay in the West. It just came down to coach Altman and I liked how his teams were progressing over the years. I felt like I could have a big role and big impact and put Oregon on the map as a basketball team. It’s been a great two years here. I love it in Eugene — even if it rains every day.”