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Looking Ahead: Sizing Up Oregon State’s 2017-2018 Basketball Team

After California ended a tough season for the Beavers on Wednesday night, we look ahead to what the 2017-2018 season may hold in store.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Oregon State Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

“7” Questions Heading Into Next Season

1. Will Tres Tinkle Be Healthy?

Sure, Tres Tinkle is on schedule to be healthy and back for the Beavers for the 2017-2018 season but unfortunately for his sake, he just hasn’t been able to remain on the court long enough in the past few seasons. In the meantime, Tinkle has given us some fantastic twitter gems like this circus shot but his absence couldn’t have been more evident all-season long. Oregon State needs the big man in the line-up and playing at 100% to have a chance to turn this ship around in the winter.

2. Will Malcolm Duvivier Return To The Mix?

Malcolm Duvivier threw a bit of a wrench into the Beavers’ 2016-2017 plans when he stepped away from the team before the season due to personal reasons and all season long, it felt like Oregon State was seriously missing that stable veteran presence both on-and-off the court. While Duvivier does have his fair share of weaknesses (specifically a tendency to turn the ball over in bunches), the fact of the matter is you simply can’t teach experience. The Beavers have the potential to start two underclassmen and three juniors for the 2017-2018 season, so leadership and guidance will be needed in bunches.

3. What Kind Of Impact Does Ethan Thompson Have?

Potentially, a colossal one. Why? Because of things like this. Say no more. The future is bright.

4. How Does The Front-Court Come Together?

The good news for Oregon State is that at the end of the 2016-2017 season, international man of mystery Gligorije Rakocevic really began to show some positive flashes because the front-court simply can’t be just Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks next season. Someone else on this Oregon State roster will need to step up. With the addition of a talent like an Ethan Thompson and the overall make-up of the team, the Beavers will have the chances to play smaller line-ups at times but depth will need to be discovered up front. Rising sophomore forward Ben Kone is a pivotal factor in this equation.

5. Does Jaquori McLaughlin Take The Next Step?

Jaquori McLaughlin’s rookie season for Oregon State went basically just as expected individually for the Gig Harbor, Washington native but in year two of his Corvallis stay, McLaughlin will have to operate with some different pieces running alongside him. During the 2016-2017 campaign, McLaughlin became a regular focal point due to the massive amount of attention placed on Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. and rightfully so, as the Eubanks-Thompson Jr. duo carried the load for a huge portion of the year. However, in the 2017-2018 season, McLaughlin’s chances at seizing his own moments will lessen with Tres Tinkle back and Ethan Thompson inserted to the mix. McLaughlin will have to find ways to continue to develop himself individually while fitting into the team concept and chemistry that will be placed before him next season.

6. Is This Drew Eubanks’ Last Season In Corvallis?

The season-long absence of forward Tres Tinkle from the line-up not only gave Drew Eubanks a whole lot of playing time but also, a huge amount of chances to impress NBA scouts during a Pac-12 portion of the schedule where professional teams watched the conference on a nightly basis. Draft Express started the season with Eubanks projected as the #38 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and more recently, they’ve had the double-double machine slotted as the potential #41 overall pick in the same class. Eubank’s draft-stock will be something to monitor all-season long.

7. Does 2016-2017’s 5-27 Campaign Have Any Lingering Effects?

From the outside-looking-in, it’s fairly easy to bury a 5-27 season into the depths of your memory and simply move on from it but when you were the players and coaching staff actually partaking in all that losing, it’s hard to say it won’t have some sort of impact going forward. Just as winning becomes a culture, so does losing and the first goal of the non-conference portion of next season will be to string together some wins and re-develop the confidence of this group.

The New Guys

Ethan Thompson (Bishop Montgomery HS/Torrance, CA) ★★★★

The son of Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Thompson and the younger brother of Beavers’ guard Stephen Thompson Jr., incoming freshman Ethan Thompson is a four-star recruit from Bishop Montgomery High School in California, who is poised to be a huge addition to the Oregon State roster. The Beavers won a tough recruiting battle for Thompson’s services over Syracuse (Stephen Sr.’s alma mater) but the chance to play for his father and and with his brother in Corvallis seemed to seal the deal for the rising prospect. As you saw in the above clip, Thompson is an explosive combo-guard who just recently led his Bishop Montgomery team to a “Southern Section Open Division Boys Basketball Championship (California)” over perennial powerhouse Mater Dei High School. Simply put, Thompson is a high-impact addition who could spark this Beavers’ group from day one.

Zach Reichle (Wilsonville HS/Wilsonville, OR) ★★★

While Zach Reichle’s recruiting wasn’t nearly as high-profiled as Thompson’s, the potential impact of the player who is being referred to as one of “the best kept secrets on the west coast” is surging by the day. Can Zach Reichle become Oregon State’s version of Oregon’s Payton Pritchard? We sure hope so. Reichle is known as a knock-down shooter but his developing all-around game is the reason that his Wilsonville team is currently the #1 seed in the Class 5A Boys Basketball Playoffs (Oregon). For those dedicated Beaver fans near Corvallis, you can check out Reichle in-person on Thursday (3/9) at 1:30 PM against La Salle Prep at Gill Coliseum (the host of the Class 5A Playoffs). For those who can’t, well here’s some clips of what Oregon State is bringing to campus in the fall.

Projected Starters (‘17-’18 Year)

Jaquori McLaughlin (Sophomore Guard)

Stephen Thompson Jr. (Junior Guard)

Ethan Thompson (Freshman Guard)

Drew Eubanks (Junior Forward)

Tres Tinkle (Junior Forward)

Analysis: Even with Duvivier’s return, I think it makes the most sense to go with Ethan Thompson in the starting line-up from day one, as the duo of Thompson and McLaughlin will be tasked to serve as the perfect compliments to a rising junior class. McLaughlin grew by leaps and bounds in his rookie campaign and Thompson has the potential to do the same, especially if Tinkle and his staff place their trust in him from day one. Between the other Thompson (reigning leading scorer Stephen) and the combo of Tinkle and Eubanks, the Beavers have three legitimate high-level Pac-12 talents who can carry the load, if health persists. That being said, Oregon State’s starting five can contend with any team in the conference on any given night. It’s just the depth around them that needs to fill itself in now.

The Rest of The Group

Malcolm Duvivier (Senior Guard)

Gligorije Rakocevic (Junior Forward)

Zach Reichle (Freshman Guard)

Kendal Manuel (Sophomore Guard)

Ben Kone (Sophomore Forward)

Ronnie Stacy (Senior Guard)

Daine Muller (Senior Guard)

Matt Dahlen (Senior Forward)

Tanner Sanders (Junior Guard)

Christian Russell (Sophomore Forward)

Analysis: The bench could become a cause for concern for Oregon State, as a handful of players will need to fill their roles at the right times to help out a starting line-up who could average the most minutes per game in the whole conference. Having a veteran presence like Malcolm Duvivier will be crucial but some of the other guards, specifically Kendal Manuel and Ronnie Stacy, need to find bigger ways to contribute. Up-front, depth needs to be found, but having a serviceable and bruising forward like Gligorije Rakocevic will help ease some transitions for this group. Head coach Wayne Tinkle’s goal for the season will be to find four-to-five usable pieces from this group to back-up a talented starting five.