EUGENE — It was just a glimpse, but boy it was smooth.

Late in Oregon’s 82-64 bashing of UCLA, a game in which just about every Oregon player couldn’t miss, Duck fans finally got to see the debut of their foreign import. 

Roman Sorkin, a former Israeli Junior National Player who joined the team earlier this year, checked in for his first Oregon minutes with just over a minute remaining. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound Belarus native promptly snagged a defensive rebound before finding himself at the top of the key for Oregon’s last offensive possession. The play was set up to get Sorkin the ball. After averaging 14.1 points last year at the European U18 Nationals, the Ducks wanted to see how his velvety jumper looked in a real game. 

Sorkin got the ball and pump faked one defender before casually burying a long two for Oregon’s last score of the game. 

“You could see from the one shot he took,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “It comes out of his hand pretty nice.” 

That doesn’t necessarily mean to expect Sorkin to start filling the cup at an alarming rate. Saturday was the first game action he’s seen since joining the program and Altman said he still has a long ways to go. Despite his height, Sorkin could still use the tutelage of a Division I weight program. The flow of the American game will still take some time to get used to. He’ll likely be important a year from now. 

“I got no doubt eight months from now when we start next October he’ll be bigger, stronger and he’ll be 19,” Altman said. 

That doesn’t mean Sorkin can’t contribute at least a little bit, now. While he still has a lot of room to grow, Altman said the freshman’s best attribute so far has been his attitude. He’s taking information in like a sponge and has quickly won the approval of the locker room. 

When asked about his bucket, teammates Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Dwayne Benjamin quickly flashed proud smiles. 

“Versatility,” Benjamin said of Sorkin’s game. “He can put it on the floor. He can shoot. The last play was for him to get a shot. He’ll ad that versatility from the bigs, the five spot.” 

That’s part of the reason why Altman decided to burn Sorkin’s redshirt in the dying minutes on Saturday. Altman said it’s highly unlikely that Sorkin sticks around in Eugene for five years, and though he came to Oregon to get an education, he mainly came to learn American basketball. So far, it seems he’s adjusting quite well. 

“He’s going to play,” Altman said. “He’s going to have opportunities.” 

— Tyson Alger 
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