Miller: Beavs Must Compensate for Loss of Tres Tinkle and Kylor Kelley

With Ethan Thompson returning, OSU may still surprise some teams, if newcomers step up

Posted on November 21, 2020

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

The Pac-12 men’s basketball schedule is beginning to take shape, and the season is set to begin. Over the next several days, we’ll be previewing the 2020 season for all 12 teams, continuing with the Oregon State Beavers.

2020 Recruiting Class: 9th in Pac-12 (95th Nationally)

Isaiah Johnson, Forward, 3-Star


Rodrigue Andela, Forward (Immediately Eligible)
Tariq Silver, Guard (Immediately Eligible)
Maurice Calloo, Guard (Immediately Eligible)
Warith Alatishe, Forward (Immediately Eligible)

Key Returners

Ethan Thompson
Zach Reichle

Key Departures

Kylor Kelley
Tres Tinkle

Big Picture: Beavs Must Replace Leading Scorer, Big Man

Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle | AP Photo
The Beavers lost the program’s all-time leading scorer in Tres Tinkle and dipped into the transfer market to replace his production. Each of the four transfers signed are immediately eligible, after Warith Alatishe was granted his waiver within the last 24 hours.

The school’s all-time leader in blocked shots, big-man Kylor Kelley, also graduated, forcing Wayne Tinkle to replace two of his best players from last year’s team.

Fortunately, Ethan Thompson decided to return for his senior season after testing the NBA Draft waters. It’s now Thompson’s team to lead, and his chemistry with the incoming JC transfers will be vital to OSU’s success.

Tinkle’s sole freshman recruit is Isaiah Johnson, a 3-Star forward out of California. Johnson’s playing time is yet to be determined, but he has a chance to carve out a role off the bench by the end of the year.

But building a roster with junior college transfers has its risks and rewards. Tinkle’s new players have experience playing in Division 1 and jumped at the opportunity to play for a Power 6 program. Their maturity and motivation is arguably higher than most teams laden with freshmen, which should provide a poised boost to the Beavers’ roster.

On the other hand, the lack of chemistry between the new players and returners is a valid concern. Everyone must develop and accept their role quickly. And the product on the floor is fraught with potential disagreements among players and staff.

It will fall on Tinkle to manage all the moving pieces.

Reasonable Expectations: Trap Foes at Home, Win Some on Road

Losing two of Oregon State’s all-time leaders on offense and defense is like jumping into an ice-cold lake. At first, it’s going to take some getting used to.

The records Tres Tinkle and Kelley set in their four seasons in Corvallis won’t be forgotten anytime soon. After taking down Utah on a last-second shot in last season’s Pac-12 Tournament, the Beavs’ had a puncher’s chance of beating the top-seeded Ducks. But the Coronavirus ended the Tournament prematurely, leaving nothing but “What-If’s,” “Coulda-Been’s,” and unfulfilled dreams.

Flash forward to the 2020-21 campaign, and OSU has many more questions than answers. The team should win a couple games on the road in Pac-12 play, but it’s going to be an uphill battle all season. Apart from the matchup with California in Berkeley, it’s difficult to imagine where those wins will come. At least at this point in the season.

And at home, all of the Beavers’ conference opponents will view their game at Gill Coliseum as their realistic chance of splitting the Oregon road trip. Teams will either be coming off a loss to Oregon, or facing OSU in the first leg of the series. The result could be motivated opponents night-in and night-out.

But it’s reasonable to expect Tinkle to handle business in Corvallis against California, Utah, and perhaps even Washington State.

Achievable Goal: Split at Home

Finishing .500 at home may be just beyond achievable, but it’s a realistic goal to strive for. Though some teams will view their road game against Oregon State as their chance to split the trip, it’s likely that the Beavs’ will face an opponent or two fresh off a win against Oregon.

Gill coliseum|

Normally, teams tend to have a bit of a let-down game after a big victory, and Tinkle historically pulls off upset wins at Gill.

When taken together, finding a way to split every series in Corvallis is a good team goal.

To get it done, Thompson likely has to be near the top of the conference in scoring and one or two of the JC transfers must emerge as an equal threat.

Best Case: Guard-Focused Beavs Surprise in Las Vegas

Thompson takes full advantage of his leadership role and finishes in the Top Six among the Pac-12’s scoring leaders. Returning guards Zach Reichle and Jarod Lucas form a nice second and third compliment, and transfer Tariq Silver contributes from Day One.


The four guards provide a stable and consistent backcourt threat in what projects to be a guard-focused team. While freshman Johnson sees at least 10 minutes a game and progresses as the season wears on.

In the Pac-12 Tournament, Tinkle leads his program to another upset win in the first round with a chance to take care of some unfinished business from last year. And after testing the NBA waters once again, Thompson returns for another season due to the NCAA’s COVID-19 waiver.

— Previous 2020-21 Basketball Previews —


Washington State



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