Emmitt Matthews Jr. ‘18 (Wilson High School/Tacoma, WA)
After a lengthy recruiting process in which Oregon State seemed like a potential destination for Washington native Emmitt Matthew Jr., a strong connection with UCONN head coach Kevin Ollie and associate head coach Raphael Chillious was enough to secure the commitment of the former Beavers target to the Huskies on September 24th. Matthews Jr. chose UCONN over a host of other offers from the likes of Boston College, Boise State, Georgetown, LSU, Seton Hall, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia and Wichita State. The 6’ 7”, 185-pound swingman would’ve been another pipeline state commit for the Beavers, adding to their current one-man 2018 class, which consists of only California seven-footer Jack Wilson. However, Matthews Jr. decision to go East leaves Oregon State with some questions to be answered on the recruiting front.
Jared Rhoden ‘18 (Our Savior Lutheran High School/Baldwin, NY)
A rare New York prospect that Oregon State set their sights on, it seems that the Long Island talent of Jared Rhoden won’t be headed to the Beaver State, as he recently trimmed his final list of schools down to five. The 6’ 6”, 190-pounder is currently considering Penn State, Saint Louis, Santa Clara, Seton Hall and Wichita State as his future college home, but did not include the Beavers into his final considerations. Rated as a three-star talent by ESPN, the loss of Rhoden as a potential prospect (in addition to Matthews Jr.) means the Beavers will need to ramp up their recruiting efforts for Aguir Agau, a 6’ 7” swingman from Middlebrooks Academy in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as Kamaka Hepa, a noted in-state, four-star prospect. While Agau is a bit of a more raw and unproven talent, who holds a long list of mostly mid-major offers, Hepa is quickly developing into one of the most coveted talents in the 2018 class, who has been rumored to have a liking for in-state rival Oregon.
So Where Does Oregon State Go From Here?
In the midst of what is looking like another potentially disappointing football season, the vibe around the Oregon State athletics program in terms of revenue sports seems to be taking on a trend. On the recruiting fronts, primarily in both football and men’s basketball, the swing for the fences approach of targeting high-level prospects doesn’t seem to be working out too well for either team. And while coaches would love to somehow find ways to channel new avenues for talent (as Wayne Tinkle did in recruiting almost all the sons of coaches on his staff), it’s clear that a new approach must be found on the fly.
In the world of college basketball recruiting, there are also a few avenues to explore for teams who are struggling to land unique players who should be able to influence and change their program. Finding international and foreign born players often comes with a unique “risk-reward” as players can both be unheralded stars waiting for their chance to sign or big-time flops, who struggle to adapt to the American style of play. However, at a juncture like Wayne Tinkle is during his tenure in Corvallis, a look into some international recruits may be one way to go.
It seems as though all of Tinkle and his staff’s effort to find some East Coast players have fallen short, but that the program has found success primarily in the state of California and down the West Coast, specifically with the aforementioned Jack Wilson, as well as the alluded-to son of assistant coach Stephen Thompson, Ethan Thompson, a four-star prospect. If Tinkle can continue to make some concrete headway into the Golden State, in addition to the surrounding areas of Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, the Beavers could see a noticeable increase in the overall talent of the incoming players, pending Tinkle can land the key prospects involved.
However, overall, Oregon State’s must be kept simple, smart and efficient. Instead of wildly chasing recruits from around the country, the Beavers need to focus in on players who actually want to be part of what Tinkle is building in Corvallis and what it means to play for Oregon State. Legendary Notre Dame head Lou Holtz said it best when he worked to turnaround the Fighting Irish football program into national contenders on a yearly basis. “I had to go get some guys who wanted to play for Notre Dame,” stated the famous head coach.
Out of relatives to add to the mix, it’s time for Tinkle to start targeting the same type of prospects, the ones who actually want to be part of the solution for this group. And in the meantime, Beaver Nation must simply keep the faith and believe that a continuous improved play on the court will lead to an influx of more refined talents into the program.