Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oregon's success is extra special for homegrown star

Not suggestion that Lexi Bando grew up close to the Oregon campus or anything like that, but if the wind was blowing the right way she could probably hear the PA system from most of the athletic events without leaving the comfort of her home.

Bando, who had a pair of absolutely huge 3-pointers in Oregon's win over Maryland in the regional semifinals, isn't just a part of this year's feel-good women's basketball story, she has witnessed many of Oregon's greatest athletes as a wide-eyed youngster sitting in the stands at Ducks football and basketball games.

"I grew up right behind Autzen Stadium," said Bando,  "I can walk to campus."

Bando said she began attending home games at Oregon, "pretty much as soon as I could." We always had season tickets to the football games and also went to the basketball games.."

Bando struggled to pick out one game as her most memorable one that she witnessed while growing up in Eugene but had no such difficulty rattling off some of the players she grew up idolizing.

"I've seen some really good players, Aaron Brooks, Luke Jackson, Taylor Lilley, so many great games."

With all those memories, it was a foregone conclusion that Bando, who leads Oregon in 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage, which school she was going to attend, right? Well, not exactly.

"I was recruited by Kelly (Graves) to go to Gonzaga so signed my letter to go to GU and when he made the transition to go to Oregon, I decided to follow him," Bando said. "It has been like a dream come true to play in front of my family."

So what was it about Graves that would make Bando sign to play with him at Gonzaga and after he was hired at Oregon, go out being released from her commitment so she could play for him at Oregon?

"He is a great coach and an even better person off the court," Bando said. "He wants to know about your life ,he wants to make sure you are taken care of and he has always had the best coaching staff with him. That is what really led me to him."

While the Oregon women's basketball team is looking to make it to the Final Four for the first time, the men's team has already punched its ticket.

"Just a huge congrats to them," Bando said. "It is what we strive to be like. Dana Altman has done an awesome job with them, we are hoping to kind of turn it into a basketball school. Our women's program hasn't had too much success but that is on the rise right now.

"This is such a young team and program on the rise, this is going to be a powerhouse ."

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