Oregon forward Nate Bittle, guard Rivaldo Soares talk returns for 2023-24 season
Oregon saw its stay at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas come to a close Friday night with a semifinal loss to the top-seeded UCLA Bruins. The Ducks trailed by just two points at the halftime break, but they were run over in the second half.
It highlighted just how far away this team — one that was a trendy pick in the preseason to bounce back from last year’s disappointment — was from contending. The Ducks need to get better this offseason. That means bringing in and integrating what is a top-10 signing class and developing the guys who choose to come back.
Nate Bittle falls into the latter category.
The forward revealed Friday night after the game he’s all-in in Eugene.
“I am staying 100 percent,” Bittle said. “I am not going anywhere. I believe in this coaching staff. I am committed to this team. I have both feet in.”
Nate Bittle says he's all in on this coaching staff and team, won't consider his options. Says he's fired up for an offseason of growth. Asked Rivaldo Soares how he'll evaluate his options to return, and he says he'll worry about it once the year is over.
— Matt Prehm (@MattPrehm) March 11, 2023
Bittle started 19 of the 24 games he played in this season for the Ducks. He averaged 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds a night, and his development as a stretch-forward greatly helped with coach Dana Altman’s ability to construct lineups around N’Faly Dante and Kel’el Ware.
The 7-footer saw his playing time double and improved his 3-point percentage from 20% last season to 31% this year.
Continued improvement in the shooting department will be a big deal this offseason. The Ducks are set to add 5-star forward KJ Evans and 5-star wing Mookie Cook. With decisions looming from Dante and Ware, the frontcourt could be deep for Altman or Bittle could find himself in a position where another big jump would be necessary.
He and guard Jermaine Couisnard have already stated they plan to return next season. Wing Rivaldo Soares said after Friday’s game he’ll wait to evaluate his options after the season is over. The Ducks (19-14) are expected to receive a bit to the NIT.