Pamplin Media Group – Phil Knight Legacy: Duke and Gonzaga headline men’s court in Portland

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The Thanksgiving Tournament also includes Oregon State, Portland State, Florida, Xavier, Purdue and West Virginia.

The Phil Knight Legacy College Basketball Tournament will take place in Portland later this week, with the eight-team event beginning Thursday, Nov. 24, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

In the top half of the men’s pool, Duke will face Oregon State in Game 1 before Florida and Xavier face off in Game 2 on Thursday. The other half of the installment includes an intriguing clash between Purdue and West Virginia, as well as a potential upset when Portland State takes on Gonzaga in the final game on the Thanksgiving shelf.

Here’s a quick rundown of each of the eight teams heading to Rose City for the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.

Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils are one of college basketball’s best-known brands, but a new Duke program is coming to Portland for the holidays. New head coach Jon Scheyer succeeds legendary Mike Krzyzewski, who took over the program in 1980 and transformed it into one of the sport’s bluebloods during his 42-year tenure.

Now the Blue Devils are looking to one of Coach K’s brightest pupils from his years at Scheyer. The young coach has already proven to be one of the best scouts in the country, attracting a handful of five-star recruits early in his tenure.

For this season, those top prospects include 7-footers Derek Lively II and Kyle Filipowski, as well as forwards Dariq Whitehead and Mark Mitchell. These phenomenal freshmen have joined forces with returning guard Jeremy Roach and North West graduate transfer Ryan Young to form one of the top national title contenders in the country.

Duke doesn’t seem to skip a beat in the first season of the post-Krzyzewski era.

Oregon State Beavers

After a dream season in 2020-21 that ended in a run for the Beavers to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, the wheels rolled off the bus for Oregon State last year. The team finished just 3-28 a year ago, one of the worst seasons in school history and a major disappointment in their recent success.

Head coach Wayne Tinkle is now working with a massively revamped roster, with sophomore winger Glenn Taylor Jr., senior guard Dexter Akanno and senior forward Rodrigue Andela among the only familiar faces.

The Beavers got off to a strong start with first-year guard Jordan Pope leading the team with 48 points through the first three games, as well as San Francisco transfer Dzmitry Ryuny providing the size and ability to shot. Big man Chol Marial (7-foot-2, 230 pounds) also joined the fray.

Oregon State is unlikely to return to the Final Four gates any time soon. Still, after winning just three games all season last year, the program is already 3-1 this year. Unfortunately, that loss came as a surprise surprise on Nov. 19 by Portland State.

Florida Alligators

The Gators ushered in a new era this year as freshman head coach Todd Golden takes the helm in Gainesville. Golden is coming off three successful seasons in San Francisco that culminated in an overall NCAA Tournament bid last season, just the Dons’ second appearance since 1982.

Golden, 37, is a prodigy in the college coaching industry, but now faces the bright lights of the SEC.

On the court, Florida is led by fifth-year veteran Colin Castleton. The 6-foot-11 big man is averaging 25.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in four games, while fellow countryman Kowacie Reeves has been the team’s most prolific deep threat. Meanwhile, the new coach brought in new faces in transfers Will Richard (Belmont), Kyle Lofton (St. Bonaventure), Alex Fudge (LSU) and Trey Bonham (VMI) to complete his first Gator team.

A strong showing in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament would give Golden some signature wins in Year 1 that could help the team head into December.

Xavier Musketeers

Like Duke and Florida, this Xavier team is also working with a new head coach this year. Unlike Duke and Florida, however, Sean Miller has held that position before.

Miller is in the first season of his second stint in Cincinnati. In his first run at Xavier from 2004-09, he took the Musketeers to the Big Dance four times and made two trips to Weekend Two of the NCAA Tournament. After more than a decade in Arizona, Miller was no longer coaching last year before jumping at the chance to return to his old job.

The Musketeers are led by big men Jack Nunge and Zach Freemantle, who combined to average 32.5 points, 14.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 3.0 blocks through the first four games. That dominant frontcourt is aided by stellar guard play from Souley Boom, Colby Jones, Adam Kunkel and KyKy Tandy.

Thanks to his pair of big men up front, a strong backcourt, and one of the most experienced trainers in the PK Legacy field, Xavier is a dark horse to make a deep run over the holiday weekend.

Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue may not be entering the Phil Knight Legacy with the same kind of hype that last year’s team had at the start of the season, the Boilermakers are still one of the biggest teams in the business – literally.

Zach Edey is a 7-foot-4 giant in the frontcourt for Purdue, leading the team with 20.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game through the first two weeks of the season. The Toronto native is a nightmare for just about every other Division I basketball player, and his 3.3 blocks per game should scare any opposing pilots.

Aside from Edey, a pair of freshman guards showed promise early on. Braden Smith and Foster Loyer each average more than 10 points per game, while returning pieces such as Brandon Newman, Ethan Morton and Mason Gillis are all major pieces in the rotation. An X factor for the Boilermakers is transfer guard David Jenkins Jr., a streaky scorer who can take control of games when on the go.

He may not be a Final Four contender, but with the tournament’s biggest player on his team, Purdue could have a good Thanksgiving weekend in Portland.

West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia is led by legendary head coach Bob Huggins, who has the fourth-highest win total in NCAA Division I history. Huggins will be looking to add a few more to the ledger during the PK Legacy tournament.

The Mountaineers are enjoying only the third losing season in Huggins’ first 15 years in charge, and one in which they finished last in the Big 12. In response, West Virginia cleaned the house via the portal of transfer – so much so that the team’s top five scorers through the first are all new players.

Erik Stevenson (South Carolina), Tre Mitchell (Texas), Joe Toussaint (Iowa) and Emmitt Matthews Jr. (Washington) all come from other major conferences, while junior college product Mohamed Wague provided the size and the score on the bench.

The Mountaineers edged their first four opponents by an average score of 81.0 to 57.3, but the competition will intensify significantly once they touch down in Portland. Their performance in this tournament could be an indicator for the rest of their year.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Again, the Bulldogs come into the season with championship or drop expectations from many outsiders. Those hopes are buoyed by longtime head coach Mark Few and senior Drew Timme, who is an early favorite for National Player of the Year honors.

While past Gonzaga teams have featured game-changing freshmen in Jalen Suggs (2020-21) and Chet Holmgren (2021-22), this year’s edition leans more heavily on its returning cast. . Now that these players are in the pros, some of the other prized players who signed with them are finally getting their chance in the spotlight.

Julian Strawther has major star potential on the wing as a scoring option alongside Timme, and guards Nolan Hickma and Hunter Sallis are increasingly being watched. Meanwhile, returning senior Rasir Bolton is another threat to score from anywhere on the court, and transfers Malachi Smith (Chattanooga) and Efton Reid (LSU) provide the portal’s experience and talent.

Along with Duke, this Gonzaga team should be considered one of the favorites for the PK Legacy event.

Portland State Vikings

The Vikings’ early-season tour of the Pacific Northwest continues as Portland State returns home to the Pink City for a game with Spokane-based Gonzaga. PSU started the year with a loss at Chiles Center to the University of Portland, then went north for a loss at Seattle University.

Sophomore coach Jase Coburn and the Vikings managed to get things back on track when they headed back south on I-5. Portland State crushed Evergreen State at home before going down to Corvallis to derail Oregon State’s three-game winning streak.

The team’s top six scorers all came from the transfer portal, led by Jorell Saterfield (UTEP), who had 25 points in the win over the Beavers. Cameron Parker (Montana), Isiah Kirby (Southeast Louisiana), Hunter Woods (Elon), Bobby Harvey (IUPUI) and Keshaun Saunders (Toledo) are other new faces racking up the points early on.

The Vikings aren’t likely to upset Gonzaga in the first round, but they have a squad full of talented and experienced Division I players – and they’ve beaten one of the teams in that area before. It’s not unrealistic to think that another upset could be brewing from this Portland State team.


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