The 2017 NBA Draft was a calm one for Oregon State.
The Beavers had no players even on draft boards coming off an abysmal 5-27 season and head coach Wayne Tinkle spent most of his off-season, outside of the few weeks when Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. tested NBA Draft waters, simply enjoying the development of a group that’s due for a breakout 2017-2018 campaign.
However, with an improved talent pool to work with heading into next season, the lurking possibility of the 2018 NBA Draft only comes more into focus. For some of Oregon State’s most gifted players, specifically star forwards Drew Eubanks and Tres Tinkle, and the duo of Thompson brothers in rising junior Stephen Jr. and incoming freshman Ethan, the Beavers most likely won’t have another calm draft season next year. Not if all goes according to plan during the winter for Wayne Tinkle and company.
At the moment, Eubanks is already projected as second round pick by noted NBA Draft service, Draft Express, and Tres Tinkle will likely work his way onto draft boards as well, if he returns in a similar capacity as to how he played before his most recent injury. For the Thompsons, both Stephen Jr. and Ethan show flashes of great potential but they’ll have a long way to go in proving their worth in front of NBA scouts all-season long.
So below, we take a look at each of the team’s four likely NBA Draft prospects and where each one stands in being the Beavers first draft choice since 2012, when stand-out guard Jared Cunningham was taken with the 24th overall pick in the first round. And as always, each player at the end of the day will be poised with same lurking question...
Will he stay or will he go?
DREW EUBANKS (6’ 10”, 240 LBS) F
During the 2017 NBA Draft process, forward Drew Eubanks was consistently adamant about his ability to impress an NBA team enough that they would take a chance on him during the late-June selection process. However, as the late-May deadline loomed, Eubanks’ lack of an invite to the NBA Combine and general level of interest from teams around the league pushed him to return to school for all the right reasons. That may end up being a very smart decision by the rising junior forward.
Heading into the 2017-2018 season, head coach Wayne Tinkle has discussed some of Eubanks’ development, which includes adding to the already solid range on his jump-shot, to help the 6’ 10” forward thrive in what should be a more fluid Beavers offense. After averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game as a sophomore, Eubanks could secure his already-projected spot as a second-round draft pick with another consistent and impressive season.
Projection: Eubanks Declares For Draft, Gets Selected In 2nd Round
TRES TINKLE (6’ 8”, 220 LBS) F
Forward Tres Tinkle was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA this off-season due to his injury-plagued campaign, meaning if the Beavers star player (and son of head coach Wayne Tinkle) really wanted to, he could suit up for the team until the year 2020. However, with one or two healthy seasons under his belt, the “sophomore-once-again” may opt to take a similar path as his front-court partner in Eubanks, and potentially declare for the NBA Draft before his eligibility is through.
When healthy, there’s few players to his team more valuable in the Pac-12 than Tinkle, which was on full display during last season’s 5-27 showing, when his intangibles and leadership were just too large of a void to be filled. When on-the-court, Tinkle combines with Eubanks to create a match-up nightmare for opponents, who usually can’t contain two versatile players with inside-outside skills and underrated athleticism. At the next level, Tinkle could fit within a professional-style “stretch four” concept, but 2018 may be at least a year too soon to really jump ship. Tinkle needs to be fully healthy first, before he can even consider the possibility of turning pro at this point, despite strong career averages of 16.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
Projection: Tinkle Declares For Draft, Returns To School For Junior Season
STEPHEN THOMPSON JR. (6’ 4”, 170 LBS) G
Like Tres Tinkle, guard Stephen Thompson Jr. is playing for his father at Oregon State (Stephen Thompson Sr. is an assistant coach with the team), which always adds a unique spin to any sort of departures from the program. You’re not just leaving your school, your team and college basketball behind, you’re also likely saying goodbye to the last chance to ever play for your father (and now alongside your brother as well). It’s things like that which we sometimes forget, which may play a role in a borderline professional player like Stephen Thompson Jr.’s decision at the end of the day.
When Thompson Jr. declared for the 2017 NBA Draft earlier this summer, the idea was that the high-scoring guard would simply go through the pre-draft process to get his name out there and do some workouts, but it was never expected that Thompson Jr. might actually leave to pursue a professional opportunity. And now, with only one more chance to declare for the NBA Draft during his college stay, the team’s returning leader scorer (16.3 PPG) may end up waiting until the end of the 2018-2019 season, when he’ll likely grade out as a mid-to-late second round selection. Until then, Thompson Jr. should keep filling it up for the Beavers and trying to lead this group back to the NCAA Tournament, starting with a marked turn-around this upcoming year.
Projection: Thompson Jr. Returns To School For Senior Season
ETHAN THOMPSON (6’ 4”, 175 LBS) G
In the era of “one-and-done”, it’s important to never count out any younger players who could burst onto the scene in their freshman year and convince a group of NBA scouts of their next-level potential, in less than 30 games. As a seriously gifted four-star recruit coming out of Bishop Montgomery High School in California, Ethan Thompson could be that piece for Oregon State, as much as the consensus of Beaver Nation will be hoping he stays in Corvallis for at least a few seasons.
Is it likely that Thompson will end up being a “one-and-done” type prospect in the end? Probably not. As gifted as the 6’ 4” guard is, Thompson does have some areas of his game he needs to improve on across the board and with another draft field expected to be filled with one-year holdovers from college programs around the country, Thompson would need to have one wild rookie season to move his name onto NBA Draft boards, which hypothetically could come to fruition, as he’s expected to log heavy minutes all-season long and find the ball consistently in the flow of the team’s offense. However, being a “one-and-done” prospect means taking your game to a whole different level, which may take the youngest Thompson a bit longer to do.
Projection: Thompson Returns To School For Sophomore Season