CORVALLIS — Tres Tinkle and the Thompson brothers are back for Oregon State. The question now for the Beavers is how to replace Drew Eubanks.
Eubanks, a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per games as a junior, declared early for the NBA draft but went unselected before signing a two-way contract with the San Antonio Spurs and the G League’s Austin Spurs.
The player most likely to step up as the big man in his absence is Gligorije Rakocevic, a senior this year. Also in the mix is freshman Jack Wilson, a 7-footer who missed his senior prep season with a back injury, 6-11 freshman Warren Washington and 7-foot junior Kylor Kelley, a transfer from Lane Community College in Oregon.
But overall, the Beavers are in good shape, at least when it comes to starters. They return four of their top five scorers, including Tinkle, who is also the conference’s top returning scorer with an average of 17.6 points per game. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds.
Then there’s senior guard Stephen Thompson Jr. and sophomore Ethan Thompson, who are the sons of assistant coach Stephen Thompson. Together the bothers averaged 25.7 points per game last season.
Among the other returners is sophomore Alfred Hollins, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman and moved into the starting lineup late in the season.
“We feel like we’ve got a great combination of maturity, youth, depth, strength, and then we’ve got to learn from some of the issues that maybe cost us some of those close games a year ago in order to flip it and make more progress again this season,” coach Wayne Tinkle said.
After going to the NCAA Tournament in the 2015-16 season (falling in the first round to VCU), the Beavers were hit by injuries the next season and finished a dismal 5-27. The team rebounded last year going 16-16, 7-11 in conference play. Nine of 11 Pac-12 losses came by single digits.
Wayne Tinkle said he believed last season’s team may have been dealing with the residue from the year before, when those injuries took a toll and the team couldn’t close games. The team has to be confident to win the tight ones.
OUTLOOK: The Beavers were picked in the Pac-12 preseason media poll to finish 10th in the league, above only California and Washington State.
DASTRUP’S STATUS: The Beavers got some bad news when the NCAA turned down its request and subsequent appeal to grant BYU transfer Payton Dastrup immediate eligibility. Dastrup played two seasons at BYU before transferring to Oregon State in June. After he sits out this season, the 6-10 forward will have two years of eligibility remaining.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Tinkle said son Tres Tinkle doesn’t get a free pass because he’s the coach’s kid, but the younger Tinkle has earned a certain amount of freedom on the court because of hard work.
“It’s I know what he stands for, I know what his goals are as far as the team is concerned, and anything individual, and he works his ass off for them every day of every year,” coach Tinkle said. “And so that gives me the confidence to let him go do his thing, and I know and trust that he’s going to make the right decisions for us, if that makes sense.”
SCHEDULE: The Beavers’ big trip in the nonconference season is to the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam. Oregon State faces Old Dominion in the opening game on Nov. 16, with Missouri or Kennesaw State in the second game and the opportunity to move on to the semifinals and finals. The Beavers will play Texas A&M in the Dam City Classic in Portland on Dec. 15. The opening of the conference season comes on Jan. 5 against rival Oregon.