Despite losing Jeff Newberry, Chris Olivier and Anthony Allen Jr., the Pokes look to be in great shape for 2017. The backcourt is going to be one of the best in the conference with Jawun Evans and Phil Forte leading the charge, while Jeffrey Carroll, who has really impressed as of late, has the potential to be an elite scorer. Tyree Griffin has proven to be a solid backup point guard, and the duo of Joe Burton and Tavarius Shine has seen solid playing time coming off the bench. But it’s going to be all about Evans and Forte. Coming off a 42 point explosion in Bedlam, Evans has established himself as the go-to guy for the rest of the year. The freshman point guard outplayed Buddy Hield and showed leadership that we haven’t seen from anyone since Forte went down. If Evans can continue to keep up the success, he’ll garner plenty of national attention. Fortunately for the Cowboys, he won’t have to do it all on his own next year. Forte will be back after averaging 15 points a game last year, and we all know what he can do beyond the arc; in a season where shooting has been such a struggle, Forte will give the Pokes a much needed deep threat.
Here’s where it gets tricky. No Allen and no Olivier means that Mitchell Solomon has to be the go-to guy down low. Whether or not Solomon is going to be ready for that role has yet to be seen, but the Cowboys won’t really have much of an option at the five spot. Leyton Hammonds and Igor Ibaka will give Oklahoma State good size at the power forward position, but if the Pokes can’t rebound, they won’t win many games. The Cowboys did sign 6-10 center Gorjok Gak in early November, and he should make an immediate impact. Gak is a three star recruit and the 19th rated center according to ESPN. But the biggest recruit the Pokes have received goes to 6-7 forward Cameron McGriff. McGriff, who has received comparisons to LeBryan Nash, is a four star recruit from Texas, and has the ability to be a starter his freshman year. McGriff will be competing with Carroll for the three spot, but has a better chance of making an immediate impact if he moved up to the power forward position.
Of course, if you-know-who is still coaching this team come next fall, many would come into the season with the belief that the Cowboys will underachieve. Year in and year out, Oklahoma State has some of the most talent in the Big 12. If we can find a way to actually do something with that talent, who knows? Maybe Oklahoma State won’t lose in the first round next year.