How much will Oregon State men’s basketball improve from last season?

Brenden Slaughter, Senior Writer
Beavers Edge

With OSU’s football season not going the way that many pundits expected, BeaversEdge.com figures it’s time to start glancing at the Beavers’ men’s basketball season. After an injury plagued 2016-17 season, the Beavers appear primed to make a jump back to Pac-12 relevance under fourth year head coach Wayne Tinkle.

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AP

1. Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. returned to OSU

Many OSU fans were caught off guard in mid-December when Thompson Jr. and Eubanks had entered their names into the NBA draft. However, neither of them hired agents in the process, enabling them to withdraw their names from consideration if they so chose to. Ultimately, the good news for the Beavers is that they both did return to school, and in doing so will make the Beavers a much more complete team this year compared to last.

Having Eubanks and Thompson Jr. back as veteran leadership on this team will be enormous as the Beavers try and make last year’s performance look like an aberration. With Eubanks and Thompson Jr. back in the fold, OSU will boast on the most veteran lad lineups in the Pac-12.

2. Tres Tinkle is back and healthy

When healthy, small forward Tres Tinkle has arguably been the most impressive and complete player on OSU’s roster. Last season before he went down with a wrist injury, he was leading the Beavers in points and rebounds. In the game that he broke his wrist against Fresno State, he had a career high 31 points and was starting to look like he was going to be the “guy” following the departure of Mr. Do it all Gary Payton II. Luckily for the Beavers, he was granted a medical redshirt and enters this season as a redshirt-sophomore. If he can get back to his early form last season, he could be a dark horse candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

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3. OSU is a year older and more mature

Admittedly, many Beavers' players said that last season it was very easy to get down on themselves when the losses started to pile up and that their youth was their biggest downfall, in terms of not being able to stay positive without much senior leadership. That is a thing of the past now for the Beavers as they have plenty of upperclassmen who are leaders for this squad.

Cheikh N'Diaye is back for his redshirt senior season, Ronnie Stacy is back for his last campaign, and UMass transfer Seth Berger joins the fold as a veteran leader as well. Those three that I mentioned are the lone seniors, but Tinkle, Eubanks, Thompson Jr, Gligorije Rakocevic, and Tanner Sanders are all guys who boast significant experience and leadership.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Beavers will have double or perhaps triple the experience, poise, moxy, and leadership than they had last season. In addition, all of the trials and tribulations that the Beavers went through last season made them a stronger and tighter unit that will be looking for nothing but total success. OSU’s leadership could translate to a very impressive unit on the court that could surprise some folks.

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4. The new additions will make a big difference

After a dismal last season, the Beavers brought in a recruiting class that will be ready to help right away. Stephen Thompson’s little brother, Ethan Thompson, is the gem of the class as the four-star talent had offers from many big time schools around the country but chose to come to OSU. The Beavers also landed the top prospect in Oregon with Wilsonville’s Zach Reichle. The Beavers also went the grad-transfer route with Berger and also landed three-star forward Alfred Hollins late in the process.

OSU also brought in Xavier Smith from Seattle and Isaac Barnes (son of OSU athletic director Scott Barnes). With these six newcomers in the fold, OSU should be in prime position to shore up their weaknesses from last season. Thompson, Reichle, Hollins, and Berger are all talented enough to play big time minutes right away for the Beavers.

Entering his fourth season as head coach, Tinkle finally has an entire team of players that he recruited and brought in with the exception of N’Diaye, and I believe he will play faster and more aggressive on defense knowing that he has a full team of talent.

5. Wayne Tinkle will not allow this team to fail again

While this headline may come off as cliché, I think it applies well to the kind of coach and leader that Tinkle is. Last season was only his second losing season ever as a head coach, and he noted after the season that it was by far and away the most difficult basketball season he’s ever been a part of. Long story short, that just won’t happen again.

The Beavers had a perfect storm of bad things happen to them last year as Malcolm Duvivier didn’t play, Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr battled injuries, and prized transfer Keondre Dew couldn’t put to rest his off the court troubles. When you combine all of those negative factors, it’s no wonder the Beavers won just five games.

That was last season and the Beavers are focused on the here and the now. With a coach like Tinkle at the helm, and perhaps the best assistants in the Pac-12 at this side, they have been preparing for this season since the last one ended and they want to prove to pundits everywhere that last season was simply an outlier in OSU’s basketball history under Tinkle.

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