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WNBA Draft Watch 2020: Ruthy Hebard is at the center of the Ducks’ dominance

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What does a team with a dazzling point guard and a wealth of 3-point shooters need to make it unstoppable? How about a post player who makes nearly 70 percent of her shots? Ruthy Hebard is definitely one to watch this winter.

Oregon v Long Beach State
Ruthy Hebard continues to be one of the NCAA’s most efficient scorers, shooting 69.7 percent from the field.
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

So far in our 2020 WNBA Draft Watch, we’ve looked at a variety of post players, including a shot-blocking specialist, a back-to-the-basket beast, and a highly skilled forward.

Now, we set our scouting sights on one of the most efficient players in the country: Oregon Ducks center Ruthy Hebard. While she may not be a household name like Sabrina Ionescu or a flashy, high-ceiling scorer like Satou Sabally, Hebard is critical to her team’s success and deserves to be mentioned as one of the key forces behind Oregon’s recent rise to power.

So how good is Hebard? What makes her a WNBA Draft prospect to watch? Let’s dive in.

Honors and statistics

Hebard has been a very reliable and consistent player throughout her collegiate career, averaging at least 16 points and 9 rebounds per game in each of the past three seasons. As a senior, she’s scoring 17 points per contest, along with 9.5 rebounds (3.4 offensive) and 1.7 blocks per game.

As such, it’s no surprise that Hebard earned All-Pac-12 honors as both a sophomore and junior, and will likely be headed there again as a senior. Prior to the 2019-20 season, Hebard was named to the Katrina McClain Award and Wade Award watch lists, and is currently on the Wooden Award midseason watch list.

As a member of USA Basketball, Hebard is a two-time Gold Medalist, winning it all as part of the 2016 FIBA U18 Team and the 2019 Pan American Games 3x3 Team. She also participated in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup, in which USA took home a Silver Medal.

How she helps the Ducks

Oregon v Long Beach State
Ruthy Hebard (center)
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

While Hebard may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of the Ducks, her role on the team is front and center — literally. At 6-foot-4, she’s Oregon’s force in the paint, and there are few players in the nation who fill that role better.

Hebard’s calling card is undoubtedly her efficiency. While her year-by-year consistency in scoring and rebounding is impressive enough on its own, it’s downright extraordinary when you consider how efficiently those points come. As a sophomore, Hebard scored 1.35 points per scoring attempt — 12th among all NCAA players — and repeated that feat as a junior.

This season, Hebard is scoring an insane 1.41 points per attempt and shooting 69.7 percent from the field. With a 23.3 percent usage rate, those numbers aren’t coming from a bench warmer or small sample size player, either — Hebard’s knack for finishing in the paint is a huge part of what makes the Ducks successful.

Of course, it takes two to tango, and Hebard’s life is made considerably easier playing alongside an elite point guard in Ionescu and in a Ducks offense that emphasizes 3-point shooting and floor spacing.

The other end of that coin, though, is that Hebard’s presence as a pick-and-roll player and play finisher is what makes the Ducks so difficult to defend. They truly are a team that can beat you both inside and out, and that probably wouldn’t be the case if Hebard wasn’t on the squad. Let’s put it this way: You don’t shoot 66 percent or better from the field across three consecutive seasons if you don’t have some skill, and Hebard possesses plenty of it.

Watch her play

As Oregon is one of the nation’s top teams, you could say that every one of their games is must-see. Hebard and the Ducks have a few extra-important national TV matchups in the near future, however. They’ll be playing Stanford and Oregon State on Jan. 16 and Jan. 26, respectively; both games will be featured on ESPN and will have bearing on how the Pac-12’s regular season standings shake out. Oregon will then take to the road to play UConn in Storrs, which will be shown on ESPN2.