Pac-12 Burning Questions: Can Stephen Thompson Jr. Make the Leap?

Posted by Mike Lemaire on October 21st, 2016

It has been a weird offseason for Oregon State. If you were looking ahead at the team’s prospects for this upcoming season last March, the future looked very bright even if do-everything guard Gary Payton II was graduating. But Payton’s heir apparent, combo guard Derrick Bruce, transferred out of the program in April followed by steady senior Malcom Duvivier leaving the program for personal reasons in September. These departures suddenly left the Beavers’ backcourt without most of its depth and experience, isolating sophomore Stephen Thompson Jr. as the lone returnee with any on-court experience. Yet Wayne Tinkle and Beavers’ fans are still bullish on their team’s potential this season, with Thompson being the biggest reason why.

Stevie Thompson Jr. Is Now The Big Man on Campus in Corvallis (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)

Stevie Thompson Jr. Is Now The Big Man on Campus in Corvallis (AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez)

The son of former Syracuse great Stephen Thompson, the younger Thompson was the crown jewel of Tinkle’s touted 2015 recruiting class that may already be one of the best in program history. At times last season, he lived up that billing, scoring 18 points in a home win against Washington and dropping 23 in a crucial road win against UCLA two weeks later. At other times, he looked like a trigger-happy freshman who struggled to find his offensive rhythm — especially in the half-court. His inconsistency was understandable from an experience perspective, but it was also driven by Payton II dominating most of the team’s offensive possessions. This year Thompson will become the focal point of Oregon State’s perimeter offense and that means the team won’t be able to weather his shooting slumps quite as easily.

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Pac-12 M5: 10.24.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on October 24th, 2013


  1. When Oregon faces Georgetown on November 8 in Seoul, South Korea, there will be a familiar face on the other side. The NCAA has cleared former UCLA center Josh Smith to start playing immediately for the Hoyas. In addition, Smith now has two years of eligibility remaining after being granted a waiver by the NCAA, since he only played six games last season. Head coach John Thompson made it clear Smith’s old problems in Los Angeles would be a thing of the past, saying he “has to maintain a high level of commitment on and off the court.” The Ducks and Hoyas will meet at 5:00 PM Pacific on that opening Friday in a game televised by ESPN.
  2. “We don’t view Arizona as the top, the cream, and everybody is the rest. We view ourselves as the cream and everybody else can fight for the rest of the spots.” Those are the words of junior Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie speaking at last week’s Pac-12 Media Day. Head coach Tad Boyle says he’s preaching for his team to ignore the preseason expectations and to be “humble and hungry”, which is easier said than done after a 20-win season last year and most everyone picking CU to make its third straight NCAA Tournament. The Buffaloes get all the chances they could every want in non-conference play to prove they are legit with a road game at Baylor, home games against Harvard, Kansas, and Georgia, and a meeting with Oklahoma State in Las Vegas.
  3. Four-star power forward Michael Humphrey (AZ) has narrowed his impressive list of offers down to two, but the Arizona Daily Star reports that there is no timetable for a decision from the Class of 2014 big man. Humphrey visited Arizona over the weekend, and Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins made an in-home visit with him on Monday. It appears that Notre Dame, UCLA, and Vanderbilt, who had offers on the table, are now out of the running.
  4. In the “down the road” department of recruiting, Craig Robinson and Oregon State landed a verbal commitment from Class of 2016 shooting guard JaQuori McLaughlin (WA). Citing his long relationship with the coaching staff at Oregon State and their man-to-man defense, McLaughlin wanted to jump aboard early. He averaged 13 points per game in his freshman season at Peninsula High School, but hopes to raise that average to 25 this year. Whether McLaughlin sticks with his commitment (and whether Robinson is still in Corvallis when McLaughlin finally graduates high school) remains to be seen.
  5. We keep it in Corvallis to close things up, as we learned yesterday they would be holding the annual “Nike N7 game” on November 26 against SIU-Edwardsville. This is the game where Oregon State wears the turquoise jerseys to bring attention to the initiative that helps Native communities across the country get access to products that encourage participation in sports. It is nice to see the tradition continue even after Joe Burton, who grew up on the Soboba Reservation in Southern California, graduated after last season.
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