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Pac-12 Basketball Team Preview: After A Five-Win Campaign, Expect The Unexpected With Oregon State

The Beavers are one of the Pac-12’s most unknown teams heading into the 2017-2018 campaign.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Oklahoma Practice Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon State Beavers

  • Last Season: 5-27 (1-17)
  • Head Coach: Wayne Tinkle (4th Season)
  • Projected Media Poll Finish: 8th (125 Points)
  • Leading Returner In Scoring: Stephen Thompson Jr. (16.3 PPG)
  • Leading Returner In Rebounds: Drew Eubanks (8.3 RPG)
  • Leading Returner In Assists: Jaquori McLaughlin (3.3 APG)

The Skinny

What a strange season it was a year ago in Corvallis.

After a 2-0 start to the 2016-2017 campaign, that included less-than-impressive victories over Prairie View A&M and UT-San Antonio, the Beavers free-fall suddenly began as they would go on to drop 22 of their next 23 games against Division I foes, a futility mark closely associated with the loss of forward Tres Tinkle (20.2 PPG) to injury. However, the problem seemed much deeper rooted than simply a lack of talent without Tinkle, as the Beavers often looked lethargic and unorganized in contests and failed to even execute against much-inferior opponents. Those weaknesses, among others, are all things that must be corrected by head coach Wayne Tinkle and his staff as the 2017-2018 campaign draws nearer.

The good news for the eldest Tinkle is that his son Tres is expected to be healthy this season, meaning the 6’ 8”, 220-pound forward can rejoin running mate Drew Eubanks (14.5 PPG) and bruising center Gligorije Rakocevic (4.6 PPG) in the Oregon State front-court. These interior talents, which could develop into the strength of the Beavers roster, will also feature big man Cheikh N'Diaye (3.6 PPG), lengthy contributor Ben Kone (2.9 PPG), rookie Alfred Hollins and UMASS grad transfer Seth Berger (2.6 PPG). Overall, the depth and versatility of the front-court could give Oregon State one of the better forward depth charts in the conference.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Oregon State
Forward Drew Eubanks will be a crucial part of the Beavers equation this season.
Scobel Wiggins-USA TODAY Sports

Where depth may become a concern for the Beavers could be in the back-court, where there are no proven options so far besides high-scoring NBA prospect Stephen Thompson Jr. (16.3 PPG) and developing point guard Jaquori McLaughlin (10.5 PPG). While the hype around Thompson Jr’s younger brother, star freshman Ethan Thompson, seems to be warranted, like most other freshman, there will be a strong learning curve in terms of finding consistency at a Pac-12 level for the rookie. For Ethan, it may be a case of serious trial by fire.

Behind that trio, at least one half of the Kendal Manuel (7.8 PPG) and Ronnie Stacy (2.2 PPG) will have to prove their worth again or Tinkle will likely have to turn to freshman sharpshooter Zach Reichle to fill minutes. However, no matter who is on the court for Oregon State, there must just simply be an increased focus and resolve within the group to go out and compete on a nightly basis, regardless of the opponent. But as last year painfully showed us for most of the season, it’s best to expect the unexpected with the Beavers, regardless of how much preseason hype surrounds this group.

Player To Know: Tres Tinkle (SO)

Tres Tinkle may have only suited up for the Beavers in six games a season ago, due to injury, but the coach’s son sure did show out during his short stint, averaging a gaudy 20.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. However, the most revealing stat from Tinkle’s abbreviated campaign was his ridiculous abillity to get to the free throw line, as Montana-native averaged 9.6 free throw attempts per contest during that time, keeping him locked into one of the team’s leaders even through the mid-way point of the season. While Tinkle has taken his fair share of criticism, specifically in regard to the team’s performance during his monster outings, he’s the main straw that stirs everything for the Beavers. If Oregon State can turn the ship around this season, expect Tinkle to be at the center of it all.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Arizona
If healthy, Oregon State has a strong all-league contender in Tres Tinkle.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Key Non-Conference Games

  • 11/13 v. Wyoming
  • 11/23 v. St. John’s* (Advocare Invitational)
  • 11/24 v. Missouri/Long Beach State* (Advocare Invitational)