After finishing last season with a 16-16 record, Oregon State lost a lot of production with shooting guard Roberto Nelson leading the way. Nelson scored 20.7 points per game last season, so his contributions would have been tough enough for new head coach Wayne Tinkle to account for. But add in the loss of forwards Angus Brandt, Devon Collier and Eric Moreland, and promising guard Hallice Cooke’s decision to transfer, and the Beavers lost their top five scorers from the 2013-14 campaign.
Those departures mean that the four players joining the program won’t lack for opportunities to earn minutes next season, and one of those newcomers is a player who’s surely familiar with the history of Oregon State basketball.
Gary Payton II arrives in Corvallis after spending two seasons at Salt Lake CC in Utah, where he averaged 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season according to Jesse Sowa of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. And while the shared name will result in some Oregon State fans thinking back to the days when his father was running the point, both father and son are hoping that fans will resist the temptation to compare the two according to Sowa.
“He’s a great defender and he needs his own identity,” the elder Payton said while meeting with the media before attending a Beavers home game in January. “When he comes here, I don’t want people to compare him to me. Please don’t. He’s not going to be Gary Payton Sr.”
However, the elder Gary added, his son earned his scholarship on his athletic talent and not his name.
“They’re going to pop up. I’ll address them when they come, but I know it’s going to come,” the younger Payton said of the comparisons in a Thursday interview at Gill Coliseum. “The mitten, it kind of doesn’t fit.”
With the personnel losses mentioned above and Challe Barton deciding to try his hand at professional basketball overseas, Payton II is essentially Oregon State’s lone point guard on the projected roster for next season. Malcolm Duvivier and Langston Morris-Walker were both members of the rotation last season but neither would be considered a point guard and the same goes for incoming freshman Chai Baker.
The lack of depth at the point guard position makes Payton a very important figure for the Beavers as they begin a new era, with Wayne Tinkle looking to build Oregon State into a program capable of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.