Marlon Stewart first recalls basketball being in his blood as a first-grader, throwing the ball around in the gym at Western Washington University as his father Mark watched over the football team’s weight workouts nearby.
He grew up watching stars such as Michael Jordan, Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp.
In college, at Washington State, Stewart became a team manager for the men’s basketball team and then student video coordinator under head coach Dick Bennett and later his son Tony because he wanted to stay around the sport.
That connection has been there ever since.
Five stops later, Stewart has a bevy of experience as he begins his second season at Oregon State and first as a Beavers assistant coach.
“I guess maybe it was in the back of my mind with my dad being a coach,” he said of his time at WSU and the path that led him to coaching.
“But that’s where I decided — even though people told me ‘don’t do it, it’s crazy’ — I think that’s where I fell in love with it. Became stubborn, and that’s what I’m doing no matter what.”
Stewart’s father is Mark Stewart, the former University of Washington All-American linebacker who is now the head football coach at Mariner High School in Everett, north of Seattle.
Marlon Stewart got his first job out of college at California as video coordinator under Mike Montgomery. There he worked with Gregg Gottlieb, an assistant coach with the Bears who was also an assistant in Wayne Tinkle’s first five seasons at Oregon State. Gottlieb is now the Beavers’ special assistant to the head coach.
After four seasons in Berkeley, Stewart went to Virginia and rejoined Tony Bennett as the Cavaliers’ technology and scouting assistant.
He was then Montana’s director of operations for two seasons and a Grizzlies assistant for another before holding an assistant position at Hawaii for the 2017-18 season.
“You look at who he’s worked under in all different capacities from Dick Bennett, Tony Bennett to Mike Montgomery,” Tinkle said. “He’s a guy that’s got a really wide recruiting network, I’m talking nationally and internationally, and a very good understanding of the game. He’s quickly learned the way we want things done.”
Stewart. 34, said his wife Morgan, whom he married this summer, initially questioned the move to Corvallis in 2018 to become director of operations because he had worked hard to become an assistant coach.
But he says he knew he was making the right choice because of Tinkle, a man he describes as genuine and someone who cares about people.
In his year-plus at Oregon State, Stewart says he’s fitting in well.
“I love it. It’s my kind of place,” he said. “Missoula and Pullman … the college town where people rally around the school. This is as good as it gets with that.”
And for the first time since college, he’s within a reasonable distance to drive home to Mercer Island, just east of Seattle, to catch up with family and friends.
Tinkle describes Stewart as “a very calming presence.”
“He never gets rattled and he’s not an emotional guy, and that gives me good peace of mind,” Tinkle said. “We can get intense at times, and it’s good to have somebody that’s there to help settle the storms a little bit that you go through in a season.”
Stewart can be stoic during practices or on the bench during games, but he admits that’s not always the case.
“I have a few pet peeves and I’ll explode on those and probably scare everybody in the gym,” he joked. “The point will definitely get across when that happens.”
Tinkle named Stewart the program’s recruiting coordinator late last season.
Tinkle said Stewart has paid his dues and earned his opportunity. He has a good vision of the game and delivers messages with a positive tone.
In recruiting, Tinkle says Stewart has "really got things dialed in for us moving forward and that’s a real bonus.”
At Hawaii, Stewart recruited Australia and New Zealand, and at California, Virginia and Montana he recruited Europe.
“I’ve got these bases and contacts,” he said. “You combine those with the experience and length that these guys have been around, and you connect the dots with people.”
Stewart said recruiting has developed into a strength of his. He’s learned from successful coaches along the way who have helped make him a stronger recruiter and better coach overall.
For example, under Hawaii coach Eran Ganot, Stewart believes he made significant progress in his work in opponent scouting.
Stewart says success in recruiting means discovering who you can relate to and who are the people for you.
“The best teams we’ve always had at places, it wasn’t that we got the highest-rated players,” he said. “We got the highest-rated players for us. The best guys that fit the way that we coach and the style of play that we have, that fit the community that you live in.”