Corvallis, Ore. -- (The Daily Barometer) Oregon State Athletic Director Bob De Carolis announced Monday that head coach Craig Robinson had been fired. With the news, uncertainty of next year’s squad has proliferated.
Robinson’s exit is preceded by the departure of six players from last year’s team, only three of whom were seniors. Scholarship athletes Hallice Cooke, Eric Moreland and Challe Barton announced their intentions to leave Oregon State for good in the interim period between De Carolis publicly backing Robinson on March 28 and eventually firing him Monday.
The Beavers filled two of those scholarships in that period of time, signing Cameron Oliver out of Grant High School in Sacramento and getting a commitment from Nick Faust, a transfer from Maryland who will have one year of eligibility after sitting out the upcoming season.
It is unknown if Oliver, Faust or the other three members of the 2014 recruiting class will jump ship with the recent news.
In a press conference Monday, De Carolis denied the idea that Cooke, Moreland and Barton left specifically because of Robinson.
“It wasn’t anything like that,” he said. “They all had their personal reasons.”
De Carolis said that OSU would likely release the incoming class of its scholarships if requested once a new coach is named.
“If (the recruits) want to come to OSU, I’m sure that we would welcome them,” he said. “If they wanted to… move out, I would say ‘Let’s wait to see who the new coach is.’”
Soon after the news came out Monday morning, Oliver tweeted “Yo man this is crazy …. Smh.”
Oliver had two offers, one from Oregon and one from Oregon State. The other members of the incoming freshmen class are Chai Baker and Isaiah Manderson. Baker’s only scholarship offer was from OSU, while Manderson had official offers from Auburn, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
According to Roberto Nelson, who just finished his senior year with the Beavers, OSU’s success next year will depend on retaining the players and commits currently on the roster.
“It could be (a rebuilding year), depending on if more people leave,” Nelson said in a phone interview Monday. OSU will only return 12.7 points per game from players who appeared in at least 25 games.
“From that standpoint, it probably is (a rebuilding year).”
As for a new coach, De Carolis and OSU have yet to begin the search for the replacement.
“We don’t have a candidate in mind,” De Carolis said. “We have a lot of help from the media giving us potential candidates, and that’s great. Keep them coming.”
Even without the added chaos of Robinson’s firing, the Beavers have plenty of questions to answer about next year’s roster.
OSU is without departing seniors Nelson, Angus Brandt and Devon Collier, who accounted for 46.7 points per game as a group. Add that to the absence of Cooke, Moreland and Barton, and the Beavers lose 87.9 percent of their scoring heading into next year.
Still, Nelson feels that the team is in good shape.
“The program is going to be on the up,” he said. “Regardless of Robinson leaving, it’s not like we don’t have good players. It’s just a matter of putting it together.”
Added former player Joe Burton, who played for Robinson from 2009-13, “Things always change. You have to make the best of it and that’s what coach would have done. The recruiting class coming in would have been a good start.”
The new arrivals will likely be the center of attention with the leading returning scorer for the Beavers being junior-to-be Langston Morris-Walker at 4.0 points per game.
Oliver, Faust, Baker and Manderson are joined by Gary Payton II, who is transferring after two years at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City.
ESPN.com lists Oliver, Baker and Manderson as three-star recruits. Baker and Manderson are both Florida natives, ranked as the No. 14 and No. 17 players from the state, respectively.
Baker and Payton II are both 6-foot-3 shooting guards, who will look to replace departed guards Nelson, Cooke and Barton.
Oliver and Manderson, meanwhile, add some height to the Beavers’ roster. Oliver is a 6-foot-8 power forward listed by ESPN.com as the No. 26 player from California. Weighing in at 220 pounds, Oliver is not a far cry from Moreland’s 6-foot-10, 215-pound frame.
At 6-foot-10 and 250 pounds, Manderson is nearly identical to Brandt, who played center this year at 6-foot-10, 246 pounds.
Of course, the development of the entire incoming class will rely in part on the unnamed coaching replacement. Burton admitted that he couldn’t evaluate the team’s outlook with Robinson’s recently vacated seat still empty.
“They have to find a coach first,” he said. “I don’t even know.”
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