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11 Days ‘Till OSU Basketball: Could This Be the Year the Beavers Make It Back to the Big Dance?

Oregon State has some of the most talented players in the conference. How far can they carry this team?

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Last year it felt like the Oregon State Beavers were very close to turning a corner, but could never quite make it. Close losses defined the season. 14 of the Beavers’ losses were single digit. A 10-point loss to Arizona was in OT. Oregon State was a threat in every game they played; they just couldn’t execute in those clutch moments to get wins.

That should change this year. Tres Tinkle just keeps getting better and better, and this year is already being talked about as potentially one of the best Small Forwards in the country. Last year he averaged 17.6 points per game, the sixth best in the Pac-12, and 7.2 rebounds per game. This year he’ll be even better.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Thompson Jr. is also ready to take a big step forward. As the Beavers’ most experienced senior, he’ll be called on as a leader for the team. Last season he was one of the leading scorers in the conference, with 15.8 points per game.

His brother Ethan is also back, and is ready to bee a premier scoring threat in the conference. Ethan had a few problems last year, shooting under 40%. He still managed 9.9 points per game, and had 111 assists. He was a key part of the Beavers’ offense, but there’s still room for improvement.

There’s no doubt that Tinkle and the Thompson brothers can match up with any other three players in the Pac-12. The big questions for the Beavers are if they can put anyone else on the court that can compare.

With Drew Eubanks on the Spurs and Seth Berger graduating, the Beavers need new starters in the front court. Alfred Hollins will definitely be a full-time starter now. Hollins developed nicely throughout the 2017-18 season, taking on a larger role as the year went on.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

To fill that fifth starting slot, the Beavers are likely to turn to someone with size. Transfer Payton Dastrup is out, because...well, NCAA * shrug emoji *. The most likely person to make the starting five right now is Gligorije Rakocevic. The 6’11” Senior Center has seen some court time over the last two seasons, but seemed to lose his shot last year. He only attempted one three-point shot last season, after being effective from behind the arc his sophomore year. Rakocevic averaged 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game last year.

If he can’t get it back, freshman Jack Wilson is an intriguing option. Wilson is 7’0”, and while he missed much of his senior season due to a back injury, he was a dominant force in high school. Someday he will be a big piece of this team, the only question is if it happens this year.

Player to Know: Zach Reichle

With Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., and Ethan Thompson, the Beavers will already have a great starting five. If Rollins steps up and they find another good final piece, it could be one of the best in the conference. But that’s never been the knock on the Beavers, depth is. So depth is where we’re going to have to look to see if this team is ready to contend for a postseason appearance.

Reichle is going to be an important part of that. He’s one of the only players with experience on the Oregon State bench, and he’ll spend a good amount of time spelling Tres Tinkle. Reichle had about 8.7 minutes per game last season, with 1.7 points per game. He had a great game against Washington in the Pac-12 tournament, when he played 33 minutes and scored 7 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

Beyond Reichle, this bench is young and untested. Freshmen Warren Washington, Antoine Vernon, and Jordan Campbell should all see some time on the court. Washington will be in for the big men, he’s a 6’11” forward out of California,while Vernon and Campbell will fill in for the guards.

3 Key Non-Conference Games

  • 12/9 at Saint Louis
  • 12/15, v Texas A&M
  • 12/21, v Kent State