While many Oregon State fans are excited about the emergence of their football team, there is another squad on campus that could exceed expectations: the men’s basketball team.
This year’s group has the potential to make the NCAA tournament and maybe even advance into the second weekend. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here are three things you need to know about OSU’s men’s hoops team.
1. Tres Tinkle
The 6-foot-7 senior doesn’t look like much on the court, but he’s a darn good player. He lacks athleticism, physicality, and bounce but makes up for it with his intuitiveness on the court.
His ability to finish tough layups is second to none, he has an outstanding ability to create angles and take advantage. He reminds me of college version of Manu Ginobili.
The senior can also step outside and shoot the long ball. Last year he shot 32.9 percent from beyond the arc. Even though this isn’t a high number, his confidence to take the shot still places pressure on the defense. If he can improve his ratio from downtown, the Beavs will greatly benefit.
However, the defense could be an area of concern. Fortunately for him, OSU has a 7-footer down low, which should take the pressure off of his shoulders.
Last season, Tinkle was named to the All-Pac 12 First Team with 20.8 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.5 blocks.
Luckily for Oregon State fans, Tinkle has a good mom. After suffering a season-ending injury in his sophomore year, he had a brief moment where he thought about quitting basketball. His mom told him he could open up to her about his feelings. “Why me, he said?” “There’s no point for me to keep playing if I’m always going to get hurt.”
Whatever his Mom said worked. He is now the resounding team leader and likely headed to the professional ranks when his college career is over. The Beavers will go as far he takes them.
2. Ethan Thompson
The 6-foot-5 junior is OSU’s knockdown shooter. His ability to stretch the floor will open up lanes for Tinkle and other players to attack the rim. Last year, he shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc.
If his game improved in the offseason, he may become the Beavs’ best wing player. With the loss of Stephen Thompson Jr. to graduation, OSU must find a reliable threat on the perimeter. The alumnus scored 16.1 points per game last year, Ethan could be the new man to carry the scoring load.
Beyond the court, he’s a stud academically. Last year he received the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. This honor is granted to students who excel in school, athletics, and in the community. It’s hard not to cheer for a person like this.
In the 2018-19 season, he scored 13.7 points per game, which was good for fourteenth in the conference. If he can improve on this clip, he could be a top-ten scorer. The Beavs faithful would love this level of productivity.
3. Kylor Kelley
The 7-foot senior is a force in the paint. Opposing players have to think twice before throwing up a shot in his direction. Last season he led the conference with 3.4 blocks per game; this was also good for second in the nation and Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors.
Having a shot blocker of this caliber allows wing players to take more chances on defense, which could lead to increased steals and easy buckets in transition. Without Kelley patrolling the paint, the Beavs might struggle defensively.
One area the senior could improve on is his offense. Last season he scored 7.7 points per game, which isn’t bad, but a kid his size should have the potential to dominate. In the opener this year, he scored 18 points, which could be a sign of things to come.
He’s also multi-faceted which could prove beneficial. “He is versatile and can play multiple positions,” said Head Coach Wayne Tinkle.
Anything he adds outside of his shot-blocking is a bonus. Maybe he’ll start pulling Steph Curry threes.
After finishing last year with an 18-13 record and missing postseason play, the Beavers have a chance to flip the script.
This campaign boasts three talented players who are looking to make a name for themselves. A trio is generally enough to win basketball games, but OSU would benefit by finding a fourth to round out the group. A passing point guard could be the final piece needed.
Either way, the Beavs are going to be a team to look out for this year. They’ll do Gary Payton proud.