It has been a long time coming for Payton Dastrup.
It’s been since he was a senior in high school, as a four-star standout at Mountain View High in Mesa, Arizona, six years ago, that the 6-foot-10 forward has had anything more than a bit role on a basketball team.
After sitting out a year at Oregon State and learning where he fits in and can make a difference, Dastrup’s time has come.
“Whatever they need me to do. I love this team and I want us to win,” he said.
Dastrup served a two-year mission in Panama with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before going to BYU, where he felt he wasn’t being fully utilized during his two years there. He played in 56 of 69 games while with the Cougars, averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per contest.
So he transferred to Oregon State in 2018 looking for a new opportunity.
His initial waiver to the NCAA to play right away and avoid sitting out a year was denied, as was his appeal and other efforts to get him on the court.
“I really had to dig in last year and focus mentally more than anything because it was a grind,” said Dastrup, a junior in athletic standing who turned 24 last month.
Instead of being an impact player in games as he had hoped, his role was reduced to the contributions he could make in practice, most importantly on the scout team playing the part of opposing players and mimicking their favorite moves.
He’s worked on his body since he arrived in Corvallis, slimming to his current 240 pounds. His offseason was focused on defense and the ability to guard all positions, if needed, rebounding and becoming a more consistent shooter.
Dastrup was a premier rebounder in high school, averaging 13 boards a game as a senior. He says he needs to return to the mentality of going for every rebound on both ends of the floor.
His versatility could be big for Oregon State, the team he wants to help return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in four seasons.
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Dastrup combines the ability to bang and score inside with a shooting range that extends to the 3-point line. He spent his high school years honing his low-post skills before developing an outside shot while at BYU.
“I think Payton’s going to be a real key piece for us,” said junior guard Ethan Thompson. “I feel like he could stretch out the floor as a big man. He can shoot the ball real well and he’s real savvy when he’s on the court.”
Added Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle: “He’s a guy we feel is a threat inside and out. He’s really a heady player. The big thing with Payton, we’ve got to make sure he can defend and rebound his position. Then offensively, not press too soon.
“He’s champing at the bit, because he hasn’t really played consistently since high school. So taking caring of the ball, making good decisions and then being a strength defensively.”
Tinkle envisions Dastrup giving the Beavers a taller power forward in some lineups, as they had with Olaf Schaftenaar (2012-16), with Dastrup playing alongside 7-foot teammate Kylor Kelley. If newcomers Roman Silva and Dearon Tucker develop to where the team is comfortable with them regularly on the floor, that could allow Kelley to play power forward and provide more options.
Dastrup said he doesn’t have the most gifted skillset. But he believes his maturity, basketball IQ and the ability to make “crunch-time decisions” are plusses.
He also says, in his year-plus with the program, he’s grown to learn what is needed from him.
“A veteran leader who can talk a lot on defense and be a solid outlet passer, a force in the middle, and someone everyone has a lot of confidence in to make the right play,” Dastrup said.
It will be almost 19 months since Dastrup played in a game when Oregon State opens its regular season Nov. 5 hosting Cal State Northridge.
That aspect alone has pushed him to bring his all in practices. He knows the Beavers have lofty aspirations, and he wants to be a part of helping them reach those.
“Coming in every day and giving everything that I can to make sure our team is in top shape when it’s time to get in conference play is the goal every day,” he said.