OSU men's basketball: Cunningham leaves some big shoes to fill

2012-04-10T06:00:00Z OSU men's basketball: Cunningham leaves some big shoes to fillBy KEVIN HAMPTON, Corvallis Gazette-Times Albany Democrat Herald

The Oregon State men’s basketball team will have a new look next season.

Jared Cunningham will not be back after announcing his intention to forgo his senior season on Monday.

He leaves some big shoes to be filled.

What to do?

Find another Jared Cunningham, of course.

“What we’re going to do moving forward is we’re going to find another Jared Cunningham and hopefully have him develop the way this Jared Cunningham developed into a guy who is looked upon by the next level as a viable candidate,” coach Craig Robinson said.

Who that might be is the question.

The new “Jared” might not finish fastbreaks with highlight reel dunks or lead the Pacific-12 Conference in steals.

He might not even be Cunningham’s replacement in the starting lineup.

The player will have to be capable of taking on an on-court leadership role, offensively and defensively.

“As far as our team, we miss out on what he brings to the table, but that’s just an opportunity for myself and other members of the backcourt and everybody to take things to a new level and try to achieve the things that we’re trying to get,” guard Ahmad Starks said.

“It’s an opportunity for everyone to step up who needs to.”

The Beavers will need a new backcourt starter.

That could be Roberto Nelson, who is known for his 3-point shooting prowess.

He spent that past couple seasons learning from Cunningham.

“It’s just a lot of opportunity. I’ve learned a lot from playing with Jared. He’s really good at what he does and he plays passing lanes really well and he knows how to finish,” Nelson said. “It’s just good to have a teammate like that to kind of teach you the ins and outs.”

The Beavers are also adding two freshmen who could fit the bill.

Robinson has compared 6-foot-3 guard Langston Morris-Walker to Cunningham because they both are strong defensive players.

Jarmal Reid is a 6-6 small forward who might be able to play shooting guard.

Going the junior college route is also a possibility.

“The cupboard’s not bare. I’m really excited about what we have coming back,” Robinson said. “I’m not panicked. I would be wrong in saying we didn’t have a hole to fill. We’ve got a hole to fill.

“But the way we’re playing, when you’re scoring a lot of points and you’re winning 20 games, there are quite a few people who are interested in playing here. So we’re really excited.”

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