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Kallen Gutridge’s last order of business before playing quarterback for Oregon State — leading Wilsonville in 5A boys basketball final

The 6-foot-4 left-hander signed with OSU in December, and he's considering playing two sports for the Beavers, too

McMINNVILLE — Kallen Gutridge received an offer he simply couldn’t refuse. 

Not long after new Oregon State head football coach Trent Bray hired former Beavers quarterback Ryan Gunderson to be the team’s offensive coordinator, Gunderson made the trip to Wilsonville to watch Gutridge spin a football. He liked what he saw.

Known more as a basketball player through three years at Wilsonville, Gutridge blew up during his senior season on the gridiron. The 6-foot-4 left-hander threw for 3,773 yards and 57 touchdowns and rushed for 670 yards and six scores, leading the Wildcats to the 5A title.

The eye-popping numbers caught the attention of multiple college coaches, including Gunderson. After watching Gutridge throw live, Gunderson extended an offer, and the rest is history.

Gutridge, who signed with Oregon State in December, will be a college athlete in a few short months. But before he makes the one-hour move to Corvallis, Gutridge is hoping to cement his basketball legacy with state power Wilsonville.

Friday afternoon, the second-seeded Wildcats advanced to the 5A state title game for the eighth consecutive tournament — an Oregon all-classifications record — with a 57-51 semifinal victory over No. 6 Putnam. Gutridge has helped lead Wilsonville to the past two state titles, and the Northwest Oregon Conference basketball player of the year wants one more as the Wildcats take on No. 1 Summit in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. final at Ted Wilson Gymnasium.

Wilsonville defeated the Storm in last year’s title game, 43-36, for its sixth state title under head coach Chris Roche (2005, 2016-17, 2019, 2022-23).

“We’re going to give it our all, one last time for the seniors,” said Gutridge, a wing-turned-point guard. “We’ll definitely be the underdogs. They’ve got a great squad and we’re definitely the underdogs, but we’re excited to play them.”

Gutridge had a solid junior season at quarterback, but he initially made the decision with his family to pursue college basketball instead of football. At the time, Gutridge was considered a better prospect on the hardwood.

“The thing was, I loved football just as much as I loved basketball,” Gutridge said. “And then we had such a great season senior year, and stepping off that field, I didn’t want my football career to be over. I was still planning on playing college basketball, but it didn’t sit right with me giving up football.” 

Kallen Gutridge Wilsonville Leon Neuschwander

College football coaches began reaching out in greater numbers after Gutridge’s monster season. The increased interest prompted Gutridge to reevaluate his situation.

“Then we decided that it was just going to be whatever school fit best, whether that be for basketball or football,” he said. “I always wanted to stay home, and I grew up loving the Beavers. I’ve watched every football Civil War since the age of 5. So, when they offered, it was just an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Gutridge said the recruiting process with Oregon State started with previous head coach Jonathan Smith and offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren. The duo was set to watch Gutridge play during an OSU bye week, but Gutridge never heard from either coach again.

A few weeks later, Smith, Lindgren and others left OSU for Michigan State.

“They were telling me, ‘We’re going to come, we’re going to come’ … and then I never got that text or call that they were coming,” Gutridge said. “So, I knew maybe something was up.”

Gutridge assumed the OSU opportunity had sailed when Smith bolted, but he became one of Gunderson’s first recruiting targets after the former Beavers and Central Catholic quarterback returned to his alma mater from UCLA.

“I think it was about a week into his job … like, when he came to our high school, he hadn’t even gone home to see his parents yet,” Gutridge said. “Right when he got to Oregon State he came to watch me throw, and him and coach Bray made the decision to offer me.” 

Gutridge said the OSU coaching staff didn’t shy away from discussing conference realignment during the recruiting pitch. The Beavers and Washington State will be the lone remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference beginning with the 2024 football season.

The new OSU staff contains several former Beavers players, including Bray, Gunderson, defensive coordinator Keith Heyward and offensive line coach Kyle DeVan.

“They all played at Oregon State and their idea is to run into the fire with conference realignment,” Gutridge said. “With the insecurity of it, they came back to the school to lead us on the right path. Just hearing that was comforting.

“For me, it’s always been a dream of mine to play for Oregon State. I’m really excited about my decision to stay home and play for the Beavs.”

Gutridge also hinted at the possibility of continuing as a multi-sport athlete.

Roche said OSU men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle is interested in Gutridge’s services. Tinkle coached former Wilsonville star Zach Reichle, a current Wildcats assistant, from 2017-21. 

“But we’ll see how it would work out with football, because football takes priority,” Gutridge said. “The opportunity would be awesome, but it’s up in the air.”

a Wilsonville Redmond 5A Oregon boys basketball quarterfinal 2024 Leon Neuschwander 58

While football will be the priority in short order, Gutridge is fully focused on basketball at the moment. He had 27 points in the Wildcats’ quarterfinal victory over Redmond and put up 13 points, six rebounds and five assists against Putnam, including five crucial points down the stretch. 

“Kallen is an amazing athlete, a great leader,” Roche said. “He’s just been incredible this year.

“He has no problems taking the big shot. He makes a lot of them, and if he misses, he’s going to take the next one. He’s just going to go out there, compete and try to help us win. He’s a special kid, and we’re really lucky to be able to coach him.”

In the victory over Putnam, senior Kyle Counts — the grandson of Beavers legend Mel Counts — led the team with 18 points. Counts, a Division I St. Thomas (Minnesota) signee, is hoping to wrap up his prep career alongside Gutridge as a three-time state champion. 

“I’ve grown up with Kallen and I see the work he always puts in,” Counts said. “He’s someone that everybody should be looking up to, not just because of what he shows on the court, but because of the work he puts in. I just have so much trust in him down the stretch and throughout the whole game. He’s had some monster games, and I expect those to keep coming.”

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Photos by Leon Neuschwander