The Oregon women’s basketball team has its hands full as six of the Ducks’ key players have moved on from the program.
Shortly after the Ducks’ Sweet 16 exit, four of Oregon’s key rotation players transferred out of the program while Erin Boley and Lydia Giomi graduated. The departures leave head coach Kelly Graves with only two remaining players from his Final Four team: Nyara Sabally and Sedona Prince, who were injured for that tournament run.
In response, Graves ramped up his recruiting efforts. The Ducks landed guard Taylor Bigby and center Phillipina Kyei. Graves also landed New Mexico transfer Ahlise Hurst and JUCO transfer Chanaya Pinto from Northwest Florida State.
Here’s a look at the scholarship Ducks currently on roster, a debrief of their 2020 seasons, and outlooks as they transition into next season.
Te-Hina Paopao - Guard
2020-21: Freshman — 10.2 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.4 spg, 43.3 fg%
This past season, Paopao followed in the shadow of Oregon’s past point guard, Sabrina Ionescu. She did so admirably, as she led the Ducks in playing time per game (28.4 minutes) and assists. Paopao was named to the All-Pac-12 team as well as the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.
After an impressive freshman campaign, Paopao enters her sophomore season as the Ducks starting point guard. She will have the keys to Oregon’s offense and will be expected to control the pace of each game.
Maddie Scherr - Guard
2020-21: Freshman — 2.3 ppg, 1.6apg, 1.9rpg, 1.1 spg, 28.8 fg%
Throughout her freshman year, Scherr consistently improved as she adapted to the college game. She closed the season starting the Ducks final four games.
In limited playing time, Scherr excelled on the defensive end as she was second on the team in steals and helped lead a resurgent lineup in March. This upcoming season her role will likely expand especially if she can begin to develop on the offensive end. . Expect Scherr to play alongside Paopao at the point of attack especially when Oregon runs its pesky 2-3 zone defense.
Ahlise Hurst - Guard
2020-21: Junior at University of New Mexico — 12.4 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 spg
Hurst is a three-point sniper. The junior guard finished third in the Mountain West Conference for three-pointers made on the season. She also led her team with 30 steals and her prowess as a facilitator will give the Ducks another ball-handling option alongside Paopao.
Hurst will fill a huge hole for the Ducks as a secondary ball-handler, one they are in desperate need of after the offseason departures. Last season Paopao was the Ducks’ only pure point guard, but Hurst has experience running a formidable offense and can help alleviate the pressure.
Sydney Parrish - Guard
2020-21: Freshman — 6.0 ppg, 0.7 apg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, 33.6 fg%
Sydney Parrish got lost in the Ducks’ guard rotation last season, but she showed signs of potential throughout the season. Parrish started the final two games of the season and she dropped 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Washington.
Parrish is one of the Ducks’ most versatile players. Her length allows her to guard multiple positions which will keep her on the court this season.
Taylor Bigby - Guard
2020-21: Senior at Centennial High School
The highly-touted four-star recruit should bring plenty of excitement to Matthew Knight Arena next winter. Bigby is a tall guard who excels at creating space for herself to knock down tough jump shots as well as creating for her teammates. She won Nevada Gatorade player of the year in 2020.
Bigby arrives at Oregon with a deep offensive bag. Her 6-foot-1 frame allows her to match up well with smaller guards on the perimeter. She will slide right into Graves’ guard rotation when the season begins.
Kylee Watson - Forward
2020-21: Freshman — 2.2 ppg, 0.2 apg, 1.3 rpg, 0.1 spg, 55.2 fg%
Watson was Oregon’s top recruit entering the 2020 season but struggled to earn consistent playing time. She scored a career-high 11 points against the Trojans on Jan. 1st, but failed to post another double-digit scoring game for the remainder of the season.
Although Watson was a five-star recruit in the Ducks’ 2020 class, she will use this upcoming season to continue her developmental process. Watson will likely come off the bench again this season to spell the Ducks’ starting forwards.
Chanaya Pinto - Forward
2020-21: Sophomore Northwest Florida State — 14.6 ppg, 2.7 apg, 8.3 rpg, 1.8 spg, 51.4 fg%
In her sophomore year, Pinto led Northwest Florida State to its first ever NCJAA women’s basketball national championship. The 6-foot-1 forward led her team in scoring and averaged 15.5 points per game throughout the tournament.
Pinto will fit right in with head coach Kelly Graves' system that favors athletic and versatile forwards who can guard multiple positions and finish at the rim. Pinto will help the Ducks get out on fast breaks and her elite finishing ability will help maximize those opportunities. I
Shannon Dufficy - Forward
2020-21: Redshirt Senior University of Missouri –– 6.5 ppg, 1.0 apg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 spg, 44.3 fg%
Last week Dufficy announced her decision to use her fifth year of eligibility and transfer into the Ducks program. Prior to transferring to University of Missouri for her senior year, she played three seasons at Utah State University. Dufficy starred as an Aggie. In 2018-19, she averaged 15.9 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game and made the All-Conference team.
It might be tough for Dufficy to earn a spot in Graves’ regular rotation, but her experience playing in big moments could help the Ducks forwards rise to any challenge when the lights get bright in March.
Nyara Sabally - Forward/Center
2020-21: Redshirt Sophomore — 12.9 ppg, 1.8 apg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 54.7 fg%
After back-to-back season-ending injuries, Sabally finally got the chance to play least season and cashed in, leading the Ducks in scoring. The offense slowly began to run through her as she was a consistent force on the block and in the mid-post area. Sabally was huge for the Ducks during their March Madness tournament run, averaging 15.3 points per game on her way to earning All-Pac-12 team honors.
Coming into her junior year, Sabally will likely be the focal point of the offense once again. Alongside Sedona Prince, the Ducks twin towers present as one of the nation’s top frontcourts.
Sedona Prince - Forward/Center
2020-21: Redshirt Sophomore — 10.4 ppg, 1.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, 0.6 spg, 54.5 fg%
Prince became the face of the Ducks program last season, not only because of her numbers but because of the focus that she placed towards uplifting the sport of women’s basketball. In the midst of the Ducks’ March Madness run, Prince spoke out about the disparity between the women’s weight room, meals, and coronavirus testing in comparison to the men’s tournament.
On the court, Prince was a strong force for the Ducks on both ends, leading the team with 1.5 blocks per game. She showed up when they needed it most, scoring 22 points against Georgia in the second round of the tournament.
Phillipina Kyei - Center
2020-20: Crestwood Preparatory School
Kyei recently committed to Oregon after playing her senior season at Crestwood Prep. The 6-foot-8 center will be the tallest player in Ducks history and has only been playing basketball for three years.
Kyei lived in Ghana until she moved to Canada in 2017 where her basketball career took flight. Her game is still a work in progress but Kyei gets to learn from some of the nation’s best post players in Sedona Prince and Sabally.
Projected Lineup: Te-Hina Paopao, Ahlise Hurst, Sydney Parrish, Nyara Sabally, Sedona Prince
Rotational Backups: Maddie Scherr, Chanaya Pinto, Shannon Dufficy, Phillipina Kyei
Maybe Next Year: Kylee Watson, Taylor Bigby
As the transfers piled up it looked as if Oregon women’s basketball program was in for a rebuilding season, but in the recent weeks Graves has flipped the switch. The 2021 team still lacks elite level experience and will need time to gel and reach the level that last year’s squad seemed to ascend to in the postseason. However, their guard rotation is deep and their frontcourt is both experienced and versatile, giving the Ducks a high upside. The Pac-12 looks to be stacked as it has in year’s past, but with a new identity and a handful of new pieces, the Ducks could play upset throughout the year.