Oregon State’s Elite Eight run has long since come and gone, but in one respect, it’s still a fresh topic to some who matter most.
Men’s basketball recruits looking at Oregon State as their college destination.
In most cases, amend that to next college destination, as this spring’s recruiting attention has turned to the NCAA transfer portal.
The Beavers have at least two roster spots to fill with the departure of transfers Julien Franklin and Tariq Silver.
Asked if he expects others currently on the roster to consider the portal, OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said, “In this day and age, you never know. We’re prepared. We’re involved with some pretty good guys. You never know once you start signing a guy or two, how guys will respond to that. We’ll see. I know we’ll be prepared to deal with whatever comes our way.”
Tinkle can’t talk about specific transfer prospects, but his coaching staff isn’t having trouble developing conversations with prominent players. Several are thought to have ties to Power 5 programs.
It’s the byproduct of an Elite Eight run, the school’s first in 39 years.
Still, there’s some frustration on Tinkle’s behalf, as pandemic restrictions keep him from bringing recruits to campus until at least the summer months. By the end of spring, most of the worthwhile transfer prospects will have a new home.
“We’re working hard, doing the FaceTime campus tours and that sort of thing,” Tinkle said. “But you’d like to get them on campus and close the door.”
Officially, there remains no word on whether seniors Ethan Thompson or Zach Reichle will return for the 2021-22 season. Tinkle said earlier this week that neither is currently in Corvallis. He’ll have a conversation with Thompson and Reichle at some point this spring. Tinkle said he’s leaving any formal announcement about their futures to the players. Neither has indicated they have interest in playing beyond this past season.
Tinkle is expecting to have a close-to-normal offseason workout schedule during the summer, provided players are able to get vaccinations. Though given the current nature of college basketball and the abundance of transfers, many teams won’t have their rosters set until mid-summer or later.
Joining Oregon State’s program are Memphis transfer forward Ahmad Rand and guard Dashawn Davis, currently at Trinity Valley CC. Rand has been on campus since January. Davis is still playing, as Trinity Valley is the NJCAA championship tournament April 19-24.
On Wednesday, Chol Marial, a 7-foot-2 center who played two years at Maryland, announced that he is transferring to Oregon State.
Marial was rated by ESPN as the No. 58 prospect for the national recruiting class of 2019.
Marial averaged 1.3 points and 1.3 rebounds during his two years at Maryland. Among schools who were chasing Marial were Oklahoma, Maryland, Penn State and UC Irvine.
Marial, a cousin of Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker, joins an Oregon State roster that includes three posts in senior Roman Silva, junior Rodrigue Andela and sophomore Dearon Tucker.
Marial played sparingly as a freshman at Maryland after battling leg injuries. As a sophomore, the 235-pound Marial played double-digit minutes in several early-season games, but his playing time diminished as the season progressed. Marial’s best game statistically was seven points and four rebounds in a season-opening win over Old Dominion.
Not officially announced by Oregon State but committed to join the Beavers is guard Xzavier Malone-Key, who opted out of Fairleigh Dickinson’s 2020-21 season. He comes to Oregon State as a graduate transfer.
Tinkle said it’s a little early to develop a nonconference schedule. Oregon State is slated to play in the Emerald Coast Classic, a four-team tournament that includes Louisiana State, Penn State and Wake Forest, on Nov. 26-27 in Niceville, Fla. Oregon State is contractually obligated to play a road game at Iowa State, but Tinkle doesn’t know if that game will take place next season or a future year.
Also up in the air is the number of nonconference games, as it’s unclear as to whether the Pac-12 will play 18 or 20 conference games. The Pac-12 played a 20-game schedule this past season because of the pandemic, but previously played 18 games. Tinkle leans toward a 20-game conference schedule because it helps the NCAA NET ranking score, and adds credibility to the overall Pac-12 standings and champion.
Regardless of how the roster and schedule comes together in 2021-22, reclaiming the magic chemistry of this past season is the priority. A season appearing to be headed nowhere suddenly emerged into a historical one at Oregon State because of a term Tinkle wore out down the stretch: buy-in.
Getting everyone to commit for the good of the team is a challenge, Tinkle admits. It didn’t happen overnight with the 2020-21 Beavers. There were some hideous losses and COVID-19 stoppages during the first half of the season. But down the stretch, Tinkle seemingly could turn to any player for a big moment, and not wonder how it would impact the feelings of another player.
They bought into what the coaches were selling.
“It’s a credit to them, but it’s a challenge every year,” Tinkle said. “You’ve got a lot of people maybe outside of the locker room that are giving opinions on how you should be played and freedom you should be allowed. It’s tough to deal with that. But this group put all that aside, obviously.”
The leadership of Thompson and Reichle was instrumental in selling the message, Tinkle said. It particularly blossomed when the typically reserved Thompson began to express himself vocally to teammates.
“They really stepped it up leadership-wise, when we needed it most,” Tinkle said.
Thompson is the last of three coaches’ sons to play for Tinkle’s Beavers. Over a period of five years, at least two sons played and started for Oregon State. Was it easier to ask for players to accept defined roles without multiple coaches’ sons on the roster?
Tinkle hesitated to say yes. A year ago, he thought son Tres Tinkle had developed into a leader who could equally challenge and praise teammates. But not all rosters are created like the 2020-21 Beavers.
“Sometimes you’ve got a group that’s not as tough as they need to be mentally. They look for excuses and look for reasons,” Tinkle said.