How Oregon landed South Carolina transfer Jermaine Couisnard
A key hire, lunch with future teammates and a phone call from Dillon Brooks were a part of Oregon's full-court press on the transfer guard.
Jermaine Couisnard had options.
The 6-foot-4 South Carolina transfer was drawn towards finishing the final years of his collegiate career with Gonzaga. He also had Houston, BYU, Ohio State and others chasing him.
But in the end, it may have been one phone call that swung everything.
Consider it another win at the buzzer for Dillon Brooks’ Oregon resume.
Brooks, a former Duck and five-year NBA pro with Memphis, has had his fair share of moments in the limelight. Some positive — some not so much — but few are better served as ambassadors for Dana Altman’s Oregon basketball program. An endorsement from the former Pac-12 player of the year carries weight; enough to help persuade Couisnard to join the Ducks.
“[The Ducks] are always on the big stage,” Couisnard told The I-5 Corridor. “They go to the tournament almost every year. They’re always in it and they love it.”
The Ducks actually didn’t go to the tournament this year, but Couisnard’s sturdy frame and ability to defend multiple positions could be part of Oregon securing a return trip back. Couisnard averaged 12 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season with the Gamecocks, and his smooth, fundamental shot leaves the door open for an uptick in percentages — he shot 39.6 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from 3 last season.
The Ducks certainly see the upside. Couisnard was recruited by new Oregon assistant Chuck Martin, a former South Carolina assistant who came to Eugene after former SC coach Frank Martin was fired. Altman hired Martin in early April, and his familiarity with Couisnard provided something that the others schools on his list lacked.
A sit-down meal with Oregon’s presumptive starting front court of Quincy Guerrier and N’Faly Dante, then the promise of extensive minutes in the Ducks’ system from the staff helped put Oregon out in front of Gonzaga.
“They just showed me that they wanted me,” Couisnard said. “They’re a winning team and they said I’ll play a lot of minutes in their system. I was like, ‘That's the right situation for me. I can go there and be myself.’”
Couisnard isn’t the first domino to fall in Oregon’s busy offseason. There’s still a chance he isn’t the last either. But the Gamecocks’ leading scorer from last season, who has two years of remaining eligibility, could be the glue that brings this iteration of the Altman Ducks together.
He’ll play both the two and the three. Early signs from the Oregon staff point to him seeing time at point guard as well.
He can certainly be relied on to score in stretches. Couisnard averaged 19.3 points over his final six games with the Gamecocks — a stretch that highlighted his name when he entered the transfer portal.
“It was a confidence thing,” he said. “Making sure my head was clear and locking in. Just being a team guy and getting back to being myself actually.”
As last season came to a dispiriting close, Altman made it abundantly clear that last year’s Oregon team lacked a deep-rooted, team-wide, work ethic. He delivered an impassioned statement in which he harped on the defining drive of past Ducks greats.
Brooks was mentioned, be sure.
In fact, much of Brooks’ call with Couisnard revolved around the idea that Oregon is a family. It’s a place where you’ll get as much get out of the experience as you put in.
It will be months until Oregon will take the floor again, but the promise of a culture overhaul begins now for Couisnard and his new teammates.
For now, Brooks’ stamp of approval will have to do.
— Shane Hoffmann
Shane Hoffmann is a senior journalism student at the University of Oregon and a regular contributor to The I-5 Corridor. Follow him on Twitter at @shane_hoffmann.
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