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Eubanks headed overseas for summer

PAMPLIN MEDIA: JAIME VALDEZ - Drew Eubanks will join Beavers teammate Stevie Thompson Jr., as part of a Pac-12 all-star team on a tour through Austrailia this summer.

CORVALLIS — At Oregon State, life without Gary Payton II began on March 19, the day after a 75-67 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Payton II was OSU’s biggest impact player since at least David Lucas more than a decade ago, a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection. Nobody was more integral to the Beavers’ 19-win season and first NCAA tourney appearance since 1990 than GP2.

But as he looks ahead to his third year at the Oregon State helm, coach Wayne Tinkle is hopeful the additions will outweigh the subtractions for the 2016-17 Beavers.

Tinkle loses seniors Payton, Olaf Schaftenaar, Langston Morris-Walker, Jarmal Reid and Daniel Gomis along with late-coming star freshman point guard Derrick Bruce, who will transfer.

But OSU returns the rest its studly freshman group — Tres Tinkle, Stevie Thompson Jr., Drew Eubanks and Gligorije Rakocevic — along with seniors-to-be Malcolm Duvivier and Cheikh N’diaye and redshirt guards Kendal Manuel and walk-on Daine Muller.

Then there is the incoming recruiting class of four — guards JaQuori McLaughlin and Ronnie Stacy and forwards Keondre Dew and Ben Kone.

The most important part of Year Three of the Tinkle era will be the development of Tres Tinkle, Thompson Jr., Eubanks and Rakocevic.

On a recent morning at the OSU Sports Performance Center, big men Eubanks and Rakocevic were doing jump-reach drills with strength and conditioning coach Jeff Macy. They’ve been working out together since the end of the season.

“I”m really happy with the progress of Drew and ‘Big G,’” the senior Tinkle says. “They’re like battering rams, going at each other every day.”

The 6-10 Eubanks averaged 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds as a freshman, and the 6-11 Rakocevic chipped in 1.5 points and 1.3 boards in limited duty. Both have plenty of up-side yet to achieve, including the ability to score down low.

“Both of them have to become back-to-the basket threats,” Tinkle says. “Drew did a lot with his athleticism on the floor, but we need to be able to throw the ball into him and get some results. ‘Big G’ did that pretty well for us in his limited time.

“In our offense, we want to throw it in there and make the defense collapse. We haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years. I expect us to do that more next season.”

Both have worked hard on facing up to the basket and shooting jumpers from short range, which would allow Tinkle to use one of them as a power forward.

“It would be nice to be able to play them together,” the OSU mentor says. “We hope to get to that point.”

The senior Tinkle can’t wait to get his newcomers onto campus to begin work with the rest of the group this summer. The biggest blue-chip prospect is four-star recruit McLaughlin, the 6-4 point guard from Gig Harbor who was Washington state Player of the Year this winter. McLaughlin was offered scholarships from such schools as Utah, Wisconsin, Arizona, Baylor, California, Stanford and Washington.

“JaQuori is the purest point guard we’ve seen in three years on the recruiting trail,” Tinkle says. “A lot of point guards want to score. There are some great shooters, some guys who can get to the rim. JaQuori does that, but he is also adept as far as running your offense."

OSU’s basketball locker rooms will be renovated this summer, and there is the possibility of the addition of a new center-hanging Jumbotron before next season. Beyond that, Tinkle is hoping for further improvements to Gill Coliseum, including more spacious seating and a slightly different configuration.

“We want to keep the fieldhouse look, but our facilities needs to be upgraded,” he says. “That helps with recruiting. But the kids we go after see all the great things we do have. They don’t worry about what we may lack.

“We said when we got here that if we got things going, we have some things we’d like to address. A lot of coaches say, ‘Give me this and then we’ll produce.’ We know we have to continue to win to make things better.”

Oregon State’s 2016-17 schedule is near completion, with non-conference home dates with such opponents as Fresno State, Lamar and Texas-San Antonio and road games at Nevada, Tulsa, Mississippi State and North Carolina Charlotte. The Beavers will have at least one game in Portland, but the Far West Classic isn’t a sure thing, though Dec. 16 and 17 Moda Center dates are secured.

“We had a couple of teams that agreed (to participate) and withdrew, so it may become a one-night headliner,” Tinkle says. “We still hope it’s a two-day Far West Classic. We’re going to turn it into a real event that’s going to attract some teams. Our partners in Portland (notably Nike) will help with that. Hopefully, by the middle of June we’ll have it set up.”

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