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Oregon State Basketball: Southern Utah Added To 2017-2018 Non-Conference Schedule

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The Thunderbirds are coming off a 6-27 season under first-year head coach Todd Simon.

NCAA Basketball: Southern Utah at Utah Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Announced via a tweet from CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, Oregon State has added Southern Utah to it’s non-conference portion of the 2017-2018 schedule. Besides the Beavers projected usual Pac-12 match-ups, the addition of the Thunderbirds to the slate is the first public announcement for next year’s basketball schedule.

The Beavers add a unique opponent in Southern Utah, who is coming off a 6-27 campaign under first year head coach Todd Simon. Simon, who took the job with the Thunderbirds after serving as UNLV’s interim head coach to end the 2015-2016 season, kick-started the team’s offense to average 77.5 points per game (75th in nation) last season, but couldn’t get things together quick enough on the defensive end of the floor. Southern Utah won just four games against Division I opponents a year ago, which all came against Big Sky Conference foes.

Despite having won just 11 games in the past two seasons as a program, optimism is high for Southern Utah in Simon’s sophomore year, as he’ll return three of his top four scorers, including Randy Onwuasor, James McGee and Jacob Calloway. Onwuasor, a recent withdrawal from the NBA Draft, is a former Texas Tech transfer who averaged 23.6 points per game for the Thunderbirds, accounting for almost one third of the team’s overall point production. McGee, Onwuasor’s back-court partner, is a steady rising senior talent who should help pace the group, while Calloway is an intriguing young 6’ 8” forward from Alaska, coming off a breakout rookie season. Southern Utah will also add Canadian small forward Jordan Lyons and Glendale, Arizona point guard Dre Marin to the mix, as a part of their 2017 recruiting class.

For Oregon State, the Beavers remain in a holding pattern as they await the NBA Draft decisions of both Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr., which should come sometime later this month. Although both players are projected to return to school, Eubanks has remained adament about his potential to impress an NBA team throughout the draft process. Neither player was invited (or selected as an alternate) to the NBA Scouting Combine, currently taking place in Chicago until May 14th. The duo have until May 24th to announce their intention to stay in the draft or return to school.

With or without Eubanks and Thompson Jr., Oregon State’s 2017-2018 roster projects nicely with the presumed return of forward Tres Tinkle and guard Jaquori McLaughlin, in addition to the arrival of a highly-touted recruiting class. Led by four-star recruit Ethan Thompson, who recently scored a game-high 32 points in the Ballislife All-American Game, the Beavers will also add fellow four-star forward Alfred Hollins, three-star guard Zach Reichle and UMASS graduate transfer Seth Berger to the program. Additionally, Oregon State also just picked up a commitment from walk-on guard Xavier Smith from Seattle’s O’Dea High School.

For more information on the Beavers 2017-2018 season, check out our way-too-early Oregon State season preview and help project the team’s starting five for this winter.