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How 2022 forward Jayden Stevens, Gonzaga Prep's 'nucleus,' committed to Oregon State

Stevens committed days after going head-to-head with future Beavers teammate Tyler Bilodeau in a viral district title finish

Soon-to-be teammates Jayden Stevens and Tyler Bilodeau’s relationship got off to an awkward start over the weekend.

On Friday, Stevens, the Gonzaga Prep forward, assisted on a half court shot as his Bullpups beat Bilodeau and Kamiakin at the buzzer in a district title — a finish that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays over the weekend.

Five days later, the two were exchanging texts after Stevens, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, announced his commitment to Oregon State, where the 6-9 Bilodeau is committed. The message from one future teammate to another?

Let’s get to work.

When Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle and assistant coach Stephen Thompson gave Stevens his first Pac-12 offer, the one he’d coveted for months, on Tuesday night, he called the other coaches recruiting him, and broke the news that he was committing to the Beavers right away.

Stevens had been zeroing in on mid-majors like Portland State, Portland, Idaho, and said Idaho State had entered the picture recently. All along, he was building and maintaining a relationship with Thompson and Tinkle, hoping an offer came.

“I kind of knew that was what I wanted to do if they were to offer,” Stevens said, “which I thought they were going to.

“They were super up front about it. They were like ‘we don’t have a scholarship right now, but in the future there might be something there. So I stuck with it.”

College coaches who have recruited him mostly see Stevens, who played AAU for Seattle Rotary, at small forward at the next level, he said. At 6-7, he’s an athletic big averaging 20 points and nine rebounds per game for the Bullpups and has the ability to guard multiple positions. At the next level, he expects to play more on the perimeter.

For the Bullpups, Stevens has been the Bullpups’ stabilizing force through an up-and-down season. They entered the season with high expectations after several impact transfers moved in, but got off to a rocky 4-6 start as the team struggled to gel early.

“Jayden was the nucleus, the core component holding it together,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said. “So I’ll forever be grateful for his leadership. It could have went in a lot of different directions, and he’s showed a great deal of maturity. He’s modeling that behavior you want young guys to emulate.”

Oregon State staff got a chance to see Bilodeau and Stevens match up head-to-head on Friday in the Spokane Arena for the 4A District 8 title. Both finished with 19 points and went blow-for-blow.

“I’m sure Jayden helped his cause, and gave people more assurance he can play with the best in the state’ ” McIntyre said,

It also gave Stevens and Bilodeau, the two-time Mid-Columbia Conference player of the year who blossomed into a Power 5 prospect during the pandemic, something to talk about once they get to campus.

“Can’t wait to get down there, get to know him better, and get over that rocky start to the relationship,” Stevens said with a laugh.