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Sports >  EWU basketball

Sooner the better: Tanner and Jacob Groves talk about their commitment to Oklahoma, leaving Eastern Washington

April 19, 2021 Updated Mon., April 19, 2021 at 9:11 p.m.

Brothers Tanner Groves and Jacob Groves pose for a photo after EWU basketball practice at Reese Court in Cheney on Wednesday.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Brothers Tanner Groves and Jacob Groves pose for a photo after EWU basketball practice at Reese Court in Cheney on Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Picking Eastern Washington was easy.

It was the only Division I school that offered Tanner and Jacob Groves a scholarship after starring at Shadle Park High School.

But after the versatile 6-foot-9 and 6-8 brothers developed and flourished at EWU – they combined for 58 points in a 93-84 first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas last month – they piqued the interest of several high-major programs.

After entering the transfer portal – nearly the entire EWU team entered after head coach Shantay Legans accepted the same job at the University of Portland – they were faced with the toughest decision of their basketball lives.

They weighed two primary options.

Would they choose the glitz and glamour of Power 5 basketball and the challenges of regularly playing against the nation’s best? Or would they continue to ride with Legans at Portland in the West Coast Conference, where they would likely be the Pilots’ top players and try to change the complexion of a typically struggling program?

The Groves brothers chose the former on Sunday when they committed to Oklahoma and new head coach Porter Moser, who led Loyola Chicago to the Elite Eight last month and the Final Four in 2018.

“It’s a really good spot,” said Tanner Groves, last season’s Big Sky Conference Most Valuable Player. “Coach Moser has a lot of experience with mid-major players. If he can turn a team like that into a Final Four team, he can do something good at a big school, too.

“The way he utilized his bigs is very important.”

Most of the schools that recruited the brothers wanted the services of both, they said, but they were prepared to split up.

“We were going to do what was best for us, individually,” said Jacob Groves, an All-Big Sky Tournament team selection. “We fell in love with the coaching staff and the atmosphere.”

They plan to move to Norman, Oklahoma in June.

Both narrowed their options to Oklahoma, Texas, Washington State and Portland last week before choosing the Sooners, who regularly appear in the NCAA Tournament and reached the second round last season.

The Sooners added another transfer on Monday in former Duke guard Jordan Goldwire.

Tanner Groves, who averaged 17.2 points, eight rebounds as a junior and is a capable 3-point shooter, will look to replace four-year Oklahoma starter Brady Manek, who recently transferred to North Carolina.

Jacob Groves, who averaged 9.3 points as a sophomore, also gives the Sooners an other experienced and versatile option.

Tanner and Jacob, who have never visited the Southwest region of the United States, said it was hard leaving new EWU head coach David Riley, formerly Legans’ assistant and choosing to not follow Legans, their primary recruiter out of high school.

“We wouldn’t be here without them,” Tanner said. “(Legans and Riley) will both be successful and we wish them nothing but the best.”EWU’s top six players from last season have committed to new schools, including the Groves brothers, Kim Aiken Jr. (Arizona), Jack Perry (Portland), Mike Meadows (Portland), Tyler Robertson (Portland) and Jacob Davison (Cal Poly).

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