Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Men's Basketball Pre-Season Outlook

What can the Beavers do for an encore? Coming off an NCAA tournament appearance, the excitement and expectations around men’s hoops is higher than it has been in decades. Practice started last week and media day is Tuesday so we thought we’d start looking at this year’s squad and its outlook.

At a Glance

Last season: Finished 19-13 overall (9-9 in Pac-12 play); were an impressive 14-3 at Gill Coliseum; defeated Arizona State, 75-66, in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament before falling 76-68 to California in the next round; earned first NCAA tournament berth since 1990; lost to VCU, 75-67, in a first round game in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Tres Tinkle (sophomore forward): Started 11 games; averaged 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 44 percent from the field; Pac-12 All-Freshman Honorable Mention.

Stephen Thompson Jr. (sophomore guard): Started five games; averaged 10. 6 points and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting 37 percent from 3-point range; hit game-winning shot at the buzzer against Washington.

Drew Eubanks (sophomore forward): Started 30 games; averaged 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 58 percent from the field, which was fourth best in the Pac-12.

Gligorige Rakocevic (sophomore center): Played in 27 games; averaged 1.5 points and 1.3 rebounds per game, while playing seven minutes per game.  

Cheikh N’Diaye (senior center): Played in 25 games, averaging 5.2 minutes per game.

Kendal Manuel (freshman guard): Didn’t play last season due to recovering from an injury.

Daine Muller (junior guard): Sat out last season due to transfer rules; previously attended Montana State and University of Montana.

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Jaquori McLaughlin (freshman guard): 6-4, 185 pounds out of Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington; ranked a 4-star point guard by multiple recruiting services; Named Washington’s Mr. Basketball as a senior after averaging 19.3 points, 9.1 assists, and 5.5 steals per game.

Ronnie Stacy (junior guard): 6-4, 195 pounds out of Tyler Junior College in in Tyler, Texas; averaged 8.6 points, 5.2 assists, and 2.8 rebounds as a sophomore last season.

Ben Kone (freshman forward): 6-8, 235 pounds out ofArchbishop Mitty High School in San Diego, California; ranked a 3-star recruit by Scout and ESPN; averaged 23.4 points and 14.9 rebounds as a senior before injuring his ACL.

Keondre Dew (junior forward): 6-8, 220 pounds out of City College of San Francisco in San Francisco, California; Started 14 games as sophomore, averaging 5.7 points and five rebounds per game, while shooting 56 percent from beyond the arc; played in 21 games as a true freshman for University of Tulsa in 2014-15.

Christian Russell (freshman center): 6-11, 235 pounds out of South Salem High School in Salem, Oregon; started all four years in high school despite attending three different schools; named to the 2016 OSAA Class 6A State Championships all-tournament first team.

Tanner Sanders (sophomore guard): 6-5, 210 pounds out of Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, Oregon; was a walk-on basketball player at OSU during the 2014-15 season; averaged 1.0 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists and 0.2 steals in 5.9 minutes per game; had career highs of eight points and four rebounds against DePaul in 2014.

Key Losses: Gary Payton II (graduated), Olaf Schaftenaar (graduated), Langston Morris-Walker (graduated), Daniel Gomis (graduated), Jarmal Reid (graduated), Derrick Bruce (left team), Malcolm Duvivier (sitting out this season due to personal reasons; whether he returns next year is to be determined.), Justin Stangel (scholarship player from last season; elected not to play this season).

Raju’s Projected Starting Lineup

G-Stacy: He won’t dazzle like Payton II, but if Stacy can be a facilitator and play solid defense, he will be doing what’s asked of him. He has the size to be the type of physical presence Duvivier was.

G-Thompson Jr.: With Payton II and Bruce gone, Thompson will be counted on to score more this season and could easily be the Beavers’ leading scorer. He will need to become more adept at passing out of double teams as opponents key on him.

G-McLaughlin: It would’ve been nice to ease McLaughlin into the college game as a 6th man off the bench aka instant offense, but due to Duvivier’s departure, he has a shot a major minutes and points if he adjusts quickly.

F-Tinkle: He’s close to being fully cleared and shouldn’t miss any games. He will be the key cog for the Beavers this season, as he sets the tone for the offense. If he finishes stronger at the rim, he could become one of the Pac-12’s elite players.

F- Eubanks: A human highlight reel often last season, it’s the basics of Eubank’s game, that if they’ve improved, could make him one of the top post players in the conference. Those include boxing out and not biting on fakes as much.

Season Outlook:

Let’s be honest, you don’t lose a player like Gary Payton II and not miss a beat. After all, he was lockdown, all-conference defender, and was the catalyst for the offense the past two seasons. But with the Beavers returning a promising young core, and bringing in several newcomers who could make instant impacts, optimism is high around the program.  

However, since the Beavers’ last game against VCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament ended, there have been two interesting developments. Freshman Derrick Bruce, who came on strong at the end of the season, left the program. More recently, it was announced that senior Malcom Duvivier will miss the season due to personal reasons. All of sudden, OSU’s backcourt depth went from strength to shaky.

Bruce, who averaged 20 points and shot 50 percent from 3-point range in his final two games, was lightening fast and displayed a much better offensive game than advertised. But he struggled off the court in Corvallis and was even suspended at one point last season. Yet, had he stayed, he was my favorite to lead the Beavers in scoring this season due to his athleticism and aggressiveness.

Duvivier appeared to struggle with his role last season, with Payton II and Stephen Thompson Jr. playing well, but his experience, size, and defensive ability would’ve been huge this season. Also, while many Beavers fan grumbled about his playmaking, he was the closest to a point guard returning this season, so that could hurt OSU. Here’s hoping he comes back next season.

OSU should be OK with Thompson Jr., highly regarded freshman Jaquori McLaughlin, and JUCO transfer Ronnie Stacy in the backcourt; provided they all stay healthy. In fact, the key to OSU matching or exceeding last season hinges on the growth and progress of their bigs, especially Tres Tinkle and Drew Eubanks. It would also help if freshman Ben Kone is able to return before Pac-12 play.

If Tinkle can be more consistent around the rim, and Eubanks more of rebounding presence, it would help fill the offensive void left by Bruce and Duvivier, as well as take pressure of Thompson Jr. and McLaughlin offensively. On the other end of the court, it will have to be more of team effort with Payton II gone, but Stacy and McLaughlin could surprise.

So, it’ll be interesting to see how this squad fares this season in the deep, talented Pac-12. The talent is there, but this is a young group that will be missing one of the most special players in program history. The good news is OSU’s nonconference slate isn’t nearly as tough as last season, so it should be easier to ease in the newcomers and work on team chemistry.

Can this team go dancing again? Sure, but the NIT might be more realistic this season. But just like Coach Tinkle surprised us his first season, you never know. Count on this, though, the Beavers should be competitive and fun to watch, especially on offense. That, in itself, will probably lead to another rockin’ season at Gill.

What are your expectations for OSU basketball this season? Join the discussion in The Lodge.

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