Mad Season

Why no self-respecting Oregonian will miss this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.

By Bart Blasengame May 19, 2009 Published in the March 2008 issue of Portland Monthly

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Last March, we sat in packs, glued to the TV, as the Oregon Ducks made a run at the NCAA basketball tournament’s Elite 8. That spunky blur of green and yellow was fun to watch while it lasted, but when Florida sank our Ducks in the fourth round (really, did the Gators need to win consecutive national championships?), we hung our heads, hastily swilled our beers and toasted to better luck in ’08. Finally, March Madness has arrived again, but this year’s lackluster Ducks simply aren’t as entertaining—even if Redmond High alum Maarty Leunen is having his best season yet. So what’s a hoops fan to do? We scouted the country and found five former Oregon high school stars who are worth waving a foam finger for.

Seth Tarver
Oregon State
Alma mater: Jesuit
College impact: OSU’s leading scorer, Tarver has been lighting it up at guard, but in the brutal Pac-10, one-man armies don’t stand a chance. Hopefully the Beavs have a big screen in the locker room—that’s the only way they’re going to see the tourney.

Kevin Love
Alma mater: Lake Oswego
College impact: Most thought Love could’ve been a key player for the Ducks or Beavers, but this freshman-of-the-year candidate (18 ppg/11 rpg) had his sights set higher—etching his name alongside Bruin legends like fellow centers Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor. If UCLA cuts down the nets, it’ll be largely thanks to the power of Love.

Brittney Davis
Oregon State
Alma mater: Jefferson
College impact: After transfering from Minnesota, Davis has made herself (back) at home as OSU’s second-best scorer. But after languishing around .500 for most of the season, the Lady Beavs will likely watch the tourney from Corvallis.

Kyle Singler
Alma mater: South Medford
College impact: Duke
might look for help continuing its legacy of NCAA titles (three so far) in the angles and elbows of the spindly freshman forward Singler. But the Blue Devils are probably a year away from making a proper run at the championship. By the time they’re ready to challenge for a Final Four spot, though, Singler (13 ppg) may well be the one bringing joy to Durham.

Jillian Harmon
Alma mater: Lakeridge
College impact: A true banger in the post (8 ppg/7 rpg), Harmon—along with Beaverton product JJ Hones—has helped the Lady Cardinal gut out a bumpy Pac-10 start and right the ship toward a likely NCAA tournament berth. After being ranked in the nation’s top 10 teams most of the season, Stanford could make some noise this month.

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