Oregon State’s women’s basketball team will be without the services of freshman Andrea Aquino this season as coach Scott Rueck confirmed Tuesday afternoon the 6-foot-9 post will redshirt.
“I’ve decided to redshirt her,” he said in a phone interview. “I just want to use this year for her development.”
A few days before the season opener, Rueck said Aquino was out and there was no time table for her return after not playing in the exhibition game against Northwest Nazarene.
Aquino, listed as a five-star, was the No. 7 rated recruit in the nation, according to espnW, before her senior season of high school.
Even though she dropped to No. 21 at the end of the season in those rankings, Aquino is the highest rated recruit to sign with Oregon State. Current teammates Mikayla Pivec and Taya Corosdale were both rated No. 26.
Destiny Slocum, who signed with Maryland out of high school and played a year with the Terrapins before transferring to Oregon State, was No. 7 in the 2016 class.
Rueck said Tuesday that Aquino, who, according to an OSU spokesperson, is not being made available for interviews at this time, has handled the situation well.
“I don’t typically make decisions just on my own,” he said. “That was through a discussion with her and we both felt it was for the best. She’s been an incredible teammate and I mean she just makes the gym better place every day with her presence.
“She’s one of those people, a lot like Destiny a year ago for us, if you know you’re not going to see time on the court, how can you help the team? And she has stepped into the role incredibly well and is a great encourager.
“And she’s learning the game as well on a completely different level than she ever has before so it’s been really fun to watch her just embrace what her role is and it’s been inspirational for our team.”
Aquino verbally committed in March 2017 when the Beavers were in Stockton, California, competing in the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
“I really felt like this was the right place for me,” Aquino said this past summer.
It’s been a whirlwind of a ride as Aquino has gone from Caacupe, Paraguay to New Jersey, to Los Angeles and finally to Corvallis, a place she said this summer she hopes becomes a stable home.
Aquino is accustomed to playing in the post, but said last summer she wants to be more than the typical back-to-the basket type of player.
“That’s another reason why I chose Oregon State is because coach Scott saw that I can do more than only just stay under the basket and get rebounds,” she said. “I can shoot and grab rebounds and also step outside.”
Not having Aquino means the Beavers are thinner in the post and the trio of senior Joanna Grymek (6-8), junior Janessa Thropay (6-2) and freshman Patricia Morris (6-7) will try to fill the void of Marie Gulich.
Gulich led the Beavers in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (9.1) last season and was selected with the last pick in the first round of the WNBA draft in April.
“You never know how it’s going to play out for anyone,” Rueck said. “So we knew it was going to be a position by committee this year and that it was going to play out into our season, and as things kind of shook out and who was the most prepared for each moment or what does the game demand right now. Do we want to go big, do we want to go small and want do we want to do with that spot. That’s what we’re doing.
“Until you get into game you don’t know who people are necessarily. So it’s really not any different than I expected. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with Andrea going into the year and so now I know.”
Grymek, who is in her second season with the Beavers, has made two starts and is averaging 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in a little over 18 minutes a game this season.
She played in 31 games last season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in just over 9 minutes a game.
Thropay, who has seen limited action her first two seasons in the program, has started four games and is chipping in 3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 15 minutes of action so far.
Morris (0.8 ppg and 1.2 rpg) has played just 5.3 minutes per game as she makes the transition from high school.
“It was going to be by committee no matter what,” Rueck said. “… I think it’s just going to evolve as the season goes.”