Before the San Antonio Spurs, Drew Eubanks was the “consummate team guy” at OSU
OSU associate head coach Kerry Rupp has resounding endorsements for San Antonio Spurs two-way center Drew Eubanks after working with him during the early stages of his development.
Over his three seasons at Oregon State University, power forward/center Drew Eubanks established himself as one of the most dominant two-way bigs in the Pac-12. Whether he knew it or not, the San Antonio Spurs were paying close attention to the conference and in turn, to Drew. His perseverance, hustle and great character landed him on a two-way deal in the River City after going undrafted in 2018.
Eubanks’ low NBA Draft capital was a result of the league’s rapidly changing expectations for players at his position. The 6-foot-9 big plays a more traditional style of basketball, primarily hovering near the rim to clean up on the glass or finish through contact in the paint. Even though it’s being considered outdated, some of the best players at his position—Rudy Gobert, Montrezl Harrell and Andre Drummond, to name a few—still play the way centers have always been taught to.
Though when you take a closer look and ask someone who spent time with him, you’ll see that there’s more than meets the eye with Drew Eubanks.
Associate head coach Kerry Rupp has been with the Oregon State men’s basketball program since 2014 and witnessed Drew’s progression first-hand. The esteemed basketball-expert has spent time with a multitude of great college basketball programs in his professional career. He’s worked with a variety of excellent players who’ve gone on to do great things in the NBA and internationally. Amongst them, Eubanks stood out for his athleticism, competitive nature and unique style of leadership.
“He was a baseball player growing up, so we got him when he was young,” Rupp said. “I always felt that if he got with a great organization and continued to develop his basketball IQ and his feel for the game, he’d just keep getting better.
“The Spurs were a great fit for him.”
Since joining the Spurs, that basketball IQ has come to fruition through his endeavors in the G-League and his energetic presence on the bench in San Antonio. Rupp referred to him as “the consummate team guy” for his commitment to his craft, community and organization. Those traits a big part of what made San Antonio such a natural landing spot for the 23-year-old.
For Spurs fans, his bench reactions and light-hearted personality have been a joy to witness. However, that’s not the side of Eubanks that shows on the court. His competitive nature makes it easy for the big man to bring “some nasty,” as Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would refer to it.
“As a big guy, you don’t only want him to be competitive, you want him to be combative,” Rupp said. “He had a toughness on the floor—kind of an edge, a nastiness.”
Whether it be through a blocked shot, an emphatic dunk, or by hustling for a loose ball, Eubanks never shies away from competition. It’s that innate drive that led Eubanks to finish his college career as Oregon State’s 11th best rebounder and third most prolific shot-blocker in program history despite forgoing his senior campaign to pursue his NBA dreams.
With his teammate LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined for the NBA’s restart in Florida, there’s a significant chance that Eubanks will play more minutes. When the injury bug bit the Spurs’ frontcourt in early-March, Eubanks started in three games with an enhanced role and more minutes.
During that span, Eubanks showcased many of the abilities that Rupp highlighted from his time at OSU: A great motor, underrated agility and hustle for a player of his size, great hands and a solid interior presence on both sides of the floor. By using his mobility, Eubanks can create mismatches when getting out in transition and forcing opposing guards to pick him up on defense. Rupp would like to see Eubanks be advantageous, using those moments to score himself or find the open man.
Drew Eubanks joins Scott Haskin as the only Oregon State players in history with 1,000+ points, 600+ rebounds and 150+ blocked shots. #GoBeavs pic.twitter.com/qBrZpp4iVl
— Oregon State Hoops (@BeaverMBB) February 27, 2018
More from Air Alamo
- The Ringer podcast goes crazy over Spurs’ Keldon Johnson
- San Antonio Spurs: Preparing for another DeMar DeRozan All-Star snub
- Rockets suffer another devasting injury before facing San Antonio Spurs
- San Antonio Spurs: 4 Players who led thrilling comeback over Wolves
- San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell’s drastic drop in minutes is inexcusable
Another plus of Eubanks’ mobility is that he’s not afraid to make switches. When a play breaks down, the team needs its players to rotate a second or third time. Eubanks isn’t afraid of switching in a flurry when Spurs need him to—especially if it means cutting off his opponent from the basket and forcing a low-efficiency shot.
San Antonio is likely to lean on Eubanks in these upcoming eight games beginning at the end of July. Being a reliable rotation player could take Eubanks from a fringe-NBA player to a legitimate rotation member by the start of next season. He’ll have some competition with Jakob Poeltl likely to take the starting spot and sophomore Chimezie Metu vying for those minutes. That’s why it’s important that Eubanks gets a grip on his role for the team now and fulfills his duties when Coach Pop checks him into the game.
“If you’re not LeBron and you’re not D-Wade, you’ve got to find your role or niche. He’s got to be a great defender and talker on defense, or be that guy who’s great off the ball and a great rebounder or cutter,” Rupp said. “In the way the game’s going, it’s a lot of pick-and-roll. You get a dynamic pick-and-roll guy who really rolls hard to the rim or into space. When all of a sudden, you have to bring help on him, it creates opportunities for other guys.”
When his number is called, Eubanks will be ready to give his team everything he’s got. Rupp witnessed it first-hand for three years in Corvallis and now, Spurs fans will get the chance to see it at the NBA’s Orlando Bubble.