The Beavers will add three new signees to the roster in the fall, all of whom received three-star ratings from Rivals.com. The Beavers have had a bit of a bumpy offseason so far, losing career three-point leader Ahmad Starks, who transferred to Illinois to be closer to his family, as well as recruit L.J. Westbrook, who de-committed from OSU in March.
The loss of Starks opens up a gaping hole at point guard for Craig Robinson, who was counting on Westbrook to step into that role after the former North Salem guard committed verbally to the team back in 2011. Unfortunately for Oregon State, Westbrook transferred to Lee Academy in Maine following a suspension from North Salem High School, which resulted from an investigation of drug use by players at the school. In March, he backed away from his verbal, telling John Hunt of the Oregonian, “I feel like I committed way too early.”
While the Beavers lost out on their top option for point guard next year, they did add Hallice Cooke, a 6-3 combo guard out of New Jersey. ESPN’s profile of Cooke describe a “versatile offensive player … with very dependable three-point range … [who] seems to have good composure and decision making ability”. His skills seem to be more suited for the two-guard, and my guess is that is likely where the Second Team All-Hudson player will be asked to help the most. He’ll have some competition in the backcourt, which is discussed further down in the piece. In the meantime, here’s some tape on Cooke, who has a pretty nice looking game, but probably needs to get a little bigger, and you can bet the coaching staff will be focusing on that with him.
Aside from Cooke, the Beavers also landed big man Cheikh N’diaye from Carlsbad, Calif. An All-CIF First Team selection, N’Diaye averaged 13.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in his senior season, adding 4.5 blocks, and recorded a triple-double (22 points, 25 rebounds, 10 blocks) against Cathedral Catholic earlier this year. The 7-1 center told the San Diego Reader, “I just say no one is going to score on me. That’s my first job when I play basketball – defense is the first thing I do. Offense is the second thing.” Here’s a look at N’Diaye… it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one he is at any given moment… he’s a giant.
Perhaps the biggest boon of all for the Beavers, however, came at the eleventh hour, when Canadian guard Malcolm Duvivier decided to reassign himself from the class of 2014 to this year’s crop, and signed a letter of intent with Oregon State right before the deadline. According to Elias Sbiet at North Pole Hoops, Duvivier is “a steal out of Toronto … a work horse with a relentless work ethic”. Craig Robinson may well have landed the Beavers’ new primary ball-handler in Duvivier, who has played for the Canadian National team in the FIBA Americas, won an MVP in one Canadian league, led his team to a championship in another, and was once a Rivals Top 100 recruit in the 2014 class. Here’s a clip of Duvivier hitting a game winner. “We don’t lose.” Now that’s the attitude. Another, longer video shows off some more of his skills.
For a look at the rest of the Beavers’ roster, head over to OSUBeavers.com for the current list. It can be assumed that, as long as everyone is healthy, seniors Angus Brandt, Devon Collier, and Roberto Nelson will be starting alongside potential NBA prospect Eric Moreland, a junior big man who came into his own last season as a dominant defender and rebounder. The question remains, who will take over the point guard role? Junior Challe Barton is an option, and he played a lot of the minutes when Starks struggled last season, but he may run into some stiff competition from Duvivier going forward.
It will be interesting to see how Craig Robinson blends this new talent with the carryovers from last year’s squad. Coming into the season with a 78-89 record, Robinson must show that he has more to offer this team than an annual trip to the White House. While the Beavers may be lightyears away from earning a trip there (for, say, a National Championship), they have the pieces in place to compete in the Pac-12.