On paper, there’s no simple way to replace a player like forward Drew Eubanks.
A 6’ 10” Oregon native (the pride of Troutdale), Eubanks has grown into a cornerstone piece of the Beavers program over the past three seasons, who merged with talented front-court partner Tres Tinkle to create one of the more formidable one-two big man combos in the Pac-12. In Tinkle’s absence (injury) last season, Eubanks picked up the slack for the coach’s son, pouring in one double-double after another, in lieu of the team’s on-court success.
It became almost unfathomable to discuss any part of Oregon State basketball without the name Drew Eubanks coming up.
And now, that chapter of the Beavers program has suddenly closed.
The old adage says that when one door closes, another one opens, and the player who may benefit the most from the loss of Eubanks to the professional ranks could be former four-star recruit Alfred Hollins, whose first year in Corvallis was a roller-coaster ride of glaring potential and sharp growing pains.
While Hollins had his moments which restored the faith of the versatile wing player throughout his rookie campaign, his almost hit-or-miss timing with head coach Wayne Tinkle seemed to be the hardest part of the equation to decipher. Like most freshman, Hollins gradually broke his way into the rotation through the first eight games of the year, but his regular playing time was erratic.
After scoring 24 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 30 minutes of court-time in a mid-February game at UCLA, Hollins found himself logging just five minutes in an overtime loss to Arizona just a week later.
Was it Wayne Tinkle who just couldn’t figure out where the 6’ 6” forward fit among the different line-up match-ups and combinations? Or was it something about Hollins that kept him in an undefined role?
Hollins would end up finishing his rookie campaign averaging a modest 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, in 13.8 minutes of playing time per contest. Shooting a strong 48.8% from the field, Hollins’ role played out more like a versatile, spark-plug type of option off the bench that Tinkle would usually insert in lackluster team situations.
The question now for Hollins, is can he use an off-season of development and a void in the depth-chart, to emerge into the talented front-court piece that the Beavers have been missing. After all, defensively he brings more to the table than Eubanks did (in terms of on-ball and perimeter defense) and his athleticism gives Tinkle more options to play with small-ball-type line-ups.
However, it’s on the offensive end where Hollins needs to mature in a hurry.
His inconsistent three-point shot allowed defenders to turn him into a shooter all too often, especially for a player who excels attacking the rim and he also needs to improve significantly as a passer and play-maker (despite a surprisingly low turnover total).
But at the end of the day, it’s all on Hollins to make it happen.
His development could be the key to a successful 2018-2019 season for the Beavers.