Why Wayne Tinkle is so excited about the 2019-20 Beavers
CORVALLIS — Wayne Tinkle is almost always optimistic heading into a basketball season, but his voice sounded giddy Tuesday as he sat in his office talking about his 2019-20 Oregon State team.
Counting redshirt Payton Dastrup, the sixth-year OSU coach will have more newcomers (seven) than returnees (six) when the Beavers take the floor for their first official workout in mid-September.
In 14 years as a head coach at Montana and Oregon State, Tinkle has never had such a large incoming group.
The sting of losing a couple of promising freshmen — guard Jordan Campbell and center Warren Washington — to transfers has been erased by the promise shown by the influx of talent.
On hand for summer workouts were freshman guards Jarod Lucas and Gianni Hunt, freshman forwards Julien Franklin and Dearon Tucker and JC transfers Sean Miller-Moore (guard) and Roman Silva (center).
"It can be as big an impact class as we've had," Tinkle said. "They worked tirelessly; never looked at the clock. When you don't have to coach effort, it's a lot easier to get done what you need to get done.
"This group was hungry from Day One. They're excited to be joining the veteran crew we have coming back. The will and the want-to — they've got it. We wanted to add talent, depth and toughness, and we feel like we've addressed all three of those areas. It's going to be a fun group to work with."
With the exception of late signee Silva, who came on for the final two weeks, the newcomers were on campus for eight weeks — from the third week of June to mid-August. For the final four weeks, the veterans — forwards Tres Tinkle and Alfred Hollins, center Kylor Kelly and guards Ethan Thompson, Antoine Vernon and Zach Reichle — joined the workouts.
Tinkle and his coaching staff got a good look at the combined product and came away impressed.
"The key with seven new guys will be how they jell," Coach Tinkle said. "If this summer is any indication, it's not going to be a problem. They were pushing the veterans every day. We're going to have competition at every position. The neat thing is how the returnees have had to elevate their game this summer because of the incoming class."
Last year's team, which went 18-13 and tied for fourth in the Pac-12 at 10-8, averaged 73.4 points despite having only eight players who averaged 10 minutes per game. (Six of those players — everybody but guard Stevie Thompson Jr. and reserve center Gligorije Rakocevic — return.) Despite the coach having to pull in the reins at the offensive end to protect against fatigue and foul problems, it was the most a Tinkle team had scored since his first year at OSU, when a Gary Payton II-led contingent averaged 75.8 points.
Tinkle would like to think this year's club can push it up to 80 points per game, more than last year's Pac-12 leader, UCLA (78.2).
"We're trying to be a lock-down defensive team, and then let's go the other way," he said. "Let's get up and down the floor and try to score. The depth didn't develop like we thought it would last year, so we had to play a slower style. This year, we'll let them get out and run. We want to hang our hat on the defensive end and let it fly offensively."
Tinkle believes this year's roster can be the deepest he's had at Oregon State: "With the depth and the character and the talent, it looks to me like, one through 13, you can throw anybody out there and they'll produce."
And: "We have some good versatility. This is a group we feel is loaded with playmakers. Sometimes, when you have that, your focus on defense goes away. That's the challenge for us."
The latest signee, the 7-1, 265-pound Silva, was added in early August to replace Shengzhe Li. Li, who signed with Oregon State in the spring, will not be playing for the Beavers. The 7-footer from Shanghai, China, who played his senior year of high school in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, was not cleared due to a medical condition, believed to be a heart abnormality. Tinkle lost guard Chai Baker in a similar situation during his first year as coach at OSU. Baker, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest during a preseason workout, never played college ball.
Silva averaged 16.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 blockd shots while shooting .628 from the field for a San Bernadino Valley (California) JC team that went 22-7 and won the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division championship as a freshman. Silva, the division's co-Player of the Year, was planning to return for his sophomore season at San Bernadino. OSU assistant Stevie Thompson Sr. — needing a replacement for Li — stepped up his recruiting pitch and offered a scholarship.
"He wasn't recruited by anyone for this class because everybody thought he was going back (to San Bernadino)," Tinkle said of Silva, who was able to get academically cleared for immediate eligibility at OSU. Silva has two seasons of eligibility remaining, though Tinkle said an appeal for an additional year could be made with the NCAA because he missed his entire first season at San Bernadino with a broken leg.
"He's a space-eater, but he's also fairly mobile for that size," Tinkle said. "What I love is his physicality and the shot-changing around the rim. And he can finish with both the right and left hand."
Tucker, who was signed in July, is a 6-10, 240-pound Dallas native who averaged 12.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a senior at Legacy Early College High School in Greenville, South Carolina.
"Dearon isn't as athletic as (ex-OSU center) Daniel Gomis, but he's a physical presence like Daniel was," Tinkle said. "He's the most physical post we've signed out of the high school ranks since I've been here. He's a good rebounder who loves to bang."
Dastrup will be seeing his first significant game action since his senior year of high school in Mesa, Arizona, in 2014. After serving a two-year church mission, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 6.4 minutes in two seasons at Brigham Young before sitting out last year at OSU. Since coming to Corvallis, the 6-10 junior has trimmed 40 pounds from his frame to get down to 240. Tinkle compares him to former OSU forward Olaf Schaftenaar.
"Payton can shoot and pass," Tinkle said. "We'll need him to use his passing skills in the post. He has a good jump hook, but to play, he'll have to rebound and defend."
Lucas will challenge for time at both guard positions. The 6-3, 185-pound native of Hacienda Heights, California, ended his prep career as the leading scorer in CIF/Southern Section history, averaging 29.4 points for his career and 39.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a senior. Lucas also helped the Compton Magic win the national AAU championship during the summer of 2018.
"Jared was very impressive this summer," Tinkle said. "We knew he could score and shoot it, but I was surprised by his defensive ability. He can make things happen. At the point, he knows how to use his body against quicker guys to get us into our offense."
The 6-2, 170-pound Hunt is a true point guard out of Torrance, California, and Bishop Montgomery High, the alma mater of the Thompson brothers.
"Gianni has the ability to break (the defender) down and get going at the rim or drop it off to a guy," Tinkle said. "He is strong and explosive and can finish over big guys. We think he'll become a ballhawk (defensively), be able to pick a guy up 94 feet and wear on him."
The 6-5, 200-pound Miller-Moore — who signed in April — is a Toronto native who averaged 18.5 points and 7.9 rebounds and shot .591 from the field for Moberly (Missouri) Area CC as a sophomore this season, helping the Greyhounds to a 28-7 record and the NJCAA Tournament. Tinkle said Miller-Moore will be Oregon State's most athletic player since Payton II.
"When we need to create havoc defensively, Sean will be all over the floor," Tinkle said. "He's a good offensive rebounder. He'll find a way to get points off of his defense and off the glass. He's somebody to go do the dirty work.
"It's a big adjustment coming to the Pac-12 from where he's been. He's working on his perimeter shot, which is only OK. But the fans are going to love him, because he's going to make some spectacular plays."
Franklin, 6-7 and 195, started four years in high school in Villa Park, California, who averaged 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a senior.
"Julien is versatile, can play multiple positions," Tinkle said. "He's a hard-nosed defender and rebounder and a very capable scorer."
Tinkle expects Vernon, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore who played sparingly as a freshman, to contend for the starting point guard spot.
"Antoine is way more confident in his game and more confortable in our system," the coach said.
The 6-6 Hollins and the 6-5 Reichle, both juniors, had disappointing sophomore seasons.
Hollins, who started 17 games, averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting .377 from the field and .231 from 3-point range.
Reichle, with the reputation as a shooter, averaged 3.5 points while shooting .302 from the field and .324 from beyond the arc.
Both will get a push for playing time from the newcomers.
Kelly, a 7-foot, 215-pound senior, set the school single-season record for blocked shots with 124 in his first year as a Beaver. He averaged 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game; all of those numbers should increase next season.
"Kylor hasn't put on any weight, but he's stronger," Tinkle said. "We'll use him more offensively, and we'll double-team and front the post a little more to help him stay out of foul trouble."
Thompson, a 6-4 junior who averaged 13.7 points and led OSU in 3-point shooting (.359) a year ago, could take on an additional role this season.
"Ethan has gotten stronger and expanded his game," Tinkle said. "He has to be a playmaker for us."
Tres Tinkle — a two-time all-Pac-12 performer who averaged 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists last season — had a busy summer. He spent some time at a training facility called "Peak Performance Project" in Santa Barbara, California, where his body was tested and evaluated to help improve strength, ability and injury prevention. Tinkle also participated in the Nike Skills Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. With good health, he is poised to become the No. 1 scorer and No. 2 rebounder in Oregon State history.
With Kelly, Dastrup, Silva and Tucker at the 4 and 5 spots, "this will be the deepest we've been at the post since I've been here," Coach Tinkle said.
That should allow the 6-7, 220-pound Tinkle to spend more time in his more natural small forward role.
"And we'll play him some at guard, using his ability to handle and see the floor and make plays," the coach said. "The biggest strength of both Ethan and Tres is when they're in transition. Last year, we weren't able to get the ball to them (on the fast break) because they were our best rebounders.
"If we can get our other guys to rebound and then get it to Tres and Etan on the wings, they'll put a lot of pressure on the defense."
NOTES: Tinkle has made a major change to his coaching staff. Gregg Gottlieb, an assistant coach the past five years, has moved into a position as director of player personnel/assistant to head coach. Marlon Stewart has taken Gottlieb's spot as an assistant coach. Stewart, 34, served as Beavers' director of basketball operations last season. Stewart has worked under Mike Montgomery at California, Dick Bennett at Washington State and Tony Bennett at Virginia. "A bright, up-and-coming coach who is a tireless worker and will be a good recruiter," said Tinkle of Stewart, who recently returned from scouting the European U-16 and U-18 Games in Italy and Montenegro.
• The Beavers will have one walk-on next season: 6-9, 200-pound junior Joey Potts, a transfer from College of Marin (California) who averaged 12.0 points and 7.1 rebounds and shot .627 from the field last season. "Once he puts on a little weight, he has a chance to help us," Coach Tinkle said. "He has a live body. He's bouncy."
• Even with all the new faces, the Beavers will be one of the more veteran teams in Division I basketball. Tres Tinkle is 23. Kelly turns 22 on Aug. 26. Dastrup turns 24 on Sept. 12.
• The facelift of the plaza in the front of Gill Coliseum is underway. "That's being funded by the university," Coach Tinkle said. "They've been great partners in understanding what an important piece Gill is to all of us. It's going to be nice."
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