If you have an older sibling, maybe you know how Oregon’s E.J. Singler feels. They’re always a step ahead, always a tad stronger, always setting expectations high. When you do accomplish something, they never fail to overshadow you anyway.
But imagine being in a hoops-driven family, following in the footsteps of Duke All-American Kyle Singler. There were the McDonald’s honors out of high school and a ride to play for one of the most heralded programs for a coach who only goes by a letter for a last name.
That was sophomore E.J. Singler’s life. He’s not sorry about it either.
“Knowing that you were playing against one of the top basketball players in his class really gave me confidence, too,” he says. “He’s just been a great brother to me and has given me a lot of advice through the years.”
The Medford, Ore., brothers got their competitive edge from their family. Father Ed Singler played football at Oregon State and mother Kris was a hoopster for the Beavers. Five of his uncles were athletes for Division I schools.
Everyone knew Kyle Singler picked up where his elders left off.
Now, the little brother is getting his due. Under first-year head coach Dana Altman, Singler is growing up. He scored his first two 20-point games of his career in consecutive wins at the Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles two weeks ago, helping his team upset the UCLA Bruins before falling to the University of Washington in the semi-final round.
Singler dropped 22 points on Arizona State to open the Ducks’ only shot at an NCAA Tournament berth. He only bettered his 8-for-12 shooting with a freakishly efficient 7-for-9 shooting, 24-point performance in a slaughtering of the Pac-10 No. 2 seed Bruins.
“He works awfully hard,” Altman says. “He’s a hard-nosed guy. He’s really tied with his family, and they’re a basketball family. I’m sure that helps a lot.”
The cloud of his big brother’s fame is lifting as so is that of his teammates. When the Sun Devils and Bruins spent their efforts shutting out bruising big man Joevan Catron, Singler just went to work.
“I just got open shots and I tried to be aggressive throughout the whole game,” Singler said on the first day of the tournament. “Throughout the whole year we’ve been that underdog, we’ve had to have that mentality throughout the year. We wanted to show the Pac-10 that we could play.”
Easy for the underdog himself to say. He was often in that position, say, every time he went to shoot around in his own backyard growing up. Were the battles kept civil?
“We tried to,” Singler jokes.
An improved three-point shot from his freshman to sophomore seasons has opened up his game. With only six double-digit scoring outings his first year at Oregon, Singler averaged 12 points and six rebounds a night in his sophomore campaign.
He’s helping the hardheaded Ducks through a rebuilding project, winning when they aren’t supposed to. They finished seventh in the Pac-10, but all things considered, a 19-17 final record is a good sign going into Year Two of the Altman era.
And with his big brother about to graduate, as any competitive sibling might refuse to do, don’t expect E.J. to hit up Kyle for advice.
“He’s really busy, I’m really busy,” E.J. says. “When we do talk, it’s just a ‘good job’ after a game.”
Just your typical sibling rivalry.
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