The new head coach at Oregon State this year is Jay John, and his credentials are stellar. He's spent the past 4 years as Lute Olson's #1 Assistant, but he has previous stops in the Pac-10 at Oregon as well (twice under two different coaches). He's been well regarded as one of the top minds in the assistant coaching ranks to have never play the lead at the Division 1 College Basketball Level, even garnering HoopScoop's nod as the #1 Assistant in the Game, as well as a top 5 choice by Lindy's annual survey of "Who to Watch". He's a 1st class coach, recruiter, and basketball guy…and frankly, he's done his time waiting in the wings. Truthfully, the Beavers chose very well...and I think the A.D. at OSU summed up the new coach the best, saying, "We wanted someone who is first class, someone with great integrity, and someone who would have a total commitment to our student-athletes. We found that someone in Jay John."
Lets take a quick look at the Beavers Projected Starters, Reserves, and Incoming Recruiting Class;
Projected Starting Lineup: (Returning Starters in Bold)
PG-Lamar Hurd, 6'4, 180 Fr (Heritage Christian, New Caney TX)
SG-Jimmie Haywood, 6'2, 175 Sr. (9.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg)
SF-Floyd North III, 6'4, 215 So. (4.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 apg)
PF-Brian Jackson, 6'9, 240 Sr. (11.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg)
C-Philip Ricci, 6'7, 250 Sr. (16.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Key Returning Reserves:
J.S. Nash, 6'1, 195 So. G (5.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Jarman Sample 6'7 205 Jr. (1.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apg)
Mike Cokley 5'8 170 Sr. (0.8 ppg, 0.2 rpg, 0.1 apg)
Derek Potter 6'11 230 So. (0.3 pgg, 1.3 rpg, 0.1 apg)
Lamar Hurd, 6'4 180 Fr (Heritage Christian, New Caney, TX)
Kevin Field 6'10 250 Fr. (Wilson HS, Tacoma WA)
Sal Vance, 6'7, 235 Fr. (Oakland Tech, Oakland CA)
Chris Stephens 6'2, 180 Fr. (Madison HS, Tacoma WA)
Last year saw Oregon State basketball fall into a spin, a circus somewhat enhanced by the youth of former coach Ritchie McKay. There were some good moments to start the year, however…things became topsy-turvey when the in-season news broke surrounding sudden transfer of Jimmy Haywood and Brian Jackson, both key Junior members of last year's team. Both members were dismissed/quit the program for a period of time, with Jackson coming back after a short time away…and Haywood leaving alltogether. When the season ended, Ritchie McKay joined the departure happy squad…and bolted for his 3rd job in four yrs, taking over the ranks at New Mexico University (where he spent much of his childhood).
Jay John stepped right in though, and after numerous conversations with team members in early April…built a quick rapport with Haywood. John was able to re-instate Haywood, and announced during the summer that after knee & foot surgeries this summer…Haywood be a member of the 2002-03 Beavers squad. Coach John wasn't able to see eye to eye with every member though, and after the circus that took place a year ago…I think that was extremely understandable. Freshman PG Joe See decided to transfer out to UCSB.
The next task for John and his new staff was on the recruiting side, something that all 1st year coaches usually find themselves way behind in from the get go. Still, OSU was still able to sign 3 newcomers, plus keep one of the two new Freshman former Coach McKay had signed. At the top of this list is Lamar Hurd, a highly sought after Top 100 prepster from Heritage Christian, TX…where he was class Valedictorian, and more importantly…brings a triple-double threat to the point guard spot due to his talent and size. He nearly averaged those numbers during his senior season.
Stephens is well-regarded as a shooter, and Field a definitely brings a big body, and a low-post threat if he develops nicely. Vance is a very interesting story, and comes from a very talented HS program…though he did not play his Senior Year.
The strength of this team is the fine Senior trio of Philip Ricci, Brian Jackson, and Jimmy Haywood. First though, lets talk about the frontcourt of Ricci & Jackson. Ricci, the 1999 California JC Player of the Year, is a solid interior scorer, and most people feel he'll improve on his 16 ppg. He showed last year that he can bang and hang with just about anyone in the Pac-10 on the post. Jackson is one of the most athletic big men to ever play for the Beavers, though his career hasn't gone the way I believe he envisioned it. Still, under John…who is reknown for his work with young post players…Jackson might flourish in his senior year. He's close to a 40% 3 point shooter, and has shown flashes of being a quality post man down in the lane. Helping out on the post will be Sophomore Derek Potter, and Freshmen Vance & Field. Vance & Field should play ahead of Potter though.
In the backcourt, it'll primarily be the Hurd and Haywood show. Both are taller guards, and extremely athletic…and both are underated defensively too. Hurd will definitely man the point guard duties though, and he'll likely play 25 mins per game. Backing him up will probably be Stephens, another frosh. OSU will probably go with a 3 guard line-up most of the year, since Floyd North III and J.S Nash are definitely not small forwards…and the only wing will be Jarman Sample. The word around Corvallis is that Sample will not get much PT either, so expect a 3 guard set most of the season until a wing can be added next year.
The one reason why I'm slotting Oregon State as the 8th position this year is because the team still has to gel, and a leader has to be solved. Having two Freshman Point Guards wont be as easy a transistion as some might think either, and you can count on Coach John getting some gray hairs along the way. I think if Ricci carries the leadership duties, Jackson & Haywood renew their commitment to OSU basketball, and Hurd makes a better than average transistion - the Beavers should crack an invite to the Pac-10 Tournament. The reason they slot ahead of Washington & Washington State is because they have interior scoring…and I believe that John will find a way to get production from everyone.
An 8th place finish, or anything higher for that matter, would have to be considered a success. This is a team that could also jump up even more…though I'll slot them at 8 and see where they go.
For more info on OSU, please visit their website at www.osubeavers.com.
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