The Oregon Ducks will depend on dependable E.J. Singler even more this season.
The 6-foot-6 forward, a mainstay as a starter for the past two seasons, is one of just three returning seniors on a Ducks team that features nine newcomers this season — six of them freshman.
Singler averaged a career-high 13.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season. He led the conference in free-throw percentage, hitting 110 of 121 attempts.
For his career at Oregon, he has 1,114 points and is the Pac-12's active scoring leader. He has started the last 79 games dating back to his freshman season.
"E.J.'s been an anchor for us the last two years. He's done a great job of stabilizing our team. His work ethic is really good," Oregon coach Dana Altman said. "Two years ago he was a sophomore with some experience, but he had a great year and really helped our team last season."
It's only natural that Singler would be compared to big brother Kyle, who is considered one of the best prep basketball stars from the state of Oregon. Kyle was heavily recruited and ended up playing for coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. He was the 2010 Final Four MVP with the Blue Devils before becoming a second-round pick in the NBA draft. Kyle Singler now plays for the Detroit Pistons.
But the younger Singler long ago established his own identity as the "anchor" with the Ducks. He joins 6-11 center Tony Woods and 6-5 wing Carlos Emory as returning seniors on the roster.
While Singler has been battling tendinitis in his knees and sat out the Ducks' first exhibition match against Concordia, he is expected to be ready to go when the season opens at home on Nov. 10 against Northern Arizona.
Oregon went 24-10 overall last season, finishing 13-5 in the Pac-12 and tied for second place. The team's 24 wins were its most since the 2006-07 season.
The Ducks were picked in the preseason to finish seventh by the reporters who regularly cover the conference.
Oregon added nine newcomers, including junior college transfer Waverly Austin, a 6-foot-11, 275-pound center who averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds last year at Palm Beach State College to earn Florida JC player of the year honors. Oregon hopes the junior will bring some inside scoring and rebounding.
Freshman Dominic Artis is also getting a lot of attention. The 5-foot-11 guard from Nevada led Findlay Prep to a 32-1 record and a national title his senior season.
"D.A., because we lost two senior guards, will have an opportunity to play a lot early," Altman said. "He's really worked hard this summer and he had a great fall."
Another newcomer — although not right away — is Arik Armstead, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward who plays defensive tackle on the No. 2 Oregon Ducks' football team.
"Hopefully our football team will be playing way into January," Altman said. "So we don't anticipate getting him until sometime mid-January. But Arik's big. He'll be physical."
Meanwhile, Oregon was awaiting word from the NCAA on the status of senior forward Arsalan Kazemi, who transferred from Rice in September. The Ducks submitted a waiver request to allow him to play immediately, but a decision may not come until mid-November.