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The Rise of Davon Dillard

The Cowboy role player has become a vital piece in this year’s tournament run.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Oklahoma State Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State will travel to Indianapolis for their first-round NCAA Tournament game against Michigan.

Wolverine fans are likely to outnumber those in orange and black when the game tips off. It’s 214 miles from Ann Arbor to Indianapolis, or just over a one hour flight. From Stilly to Indy... 705 miles or a six hour flight. Needless to say, expect plenty of blue and maize.

While traveling so far away from Stillwater probably isn’t the greatest thought for most of the Cowboy squad, at least one player is exciting.

Sophomore guard Davon Dillard is from Gary, Indiana where he played small forward at Our Savior New American School. Gary is just a 2.5 hour drive to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. You can expect some friends and family to show up for the Cowboys' opening round game on Friday.

When they do, they can expect to see Dillard take the court in the orange and black. That’s something that wasn’t the case last year.

Playing time for the four-star player out of high school was sparse when he started at Oklahoma State. In his freshman season, he barely saw the court, appearing in only seven games, which is surprising considering how depleted the Cowboys were last year.

This year though? In 12.7 minutes a game this season, Dillard is averaging 5.4 points and 3.3 rebounds, while shooting 52 percent, including 48 percent from three.

Dillard didn’t start the year in the rotation. He only touched the court in seven of OSU’s first 15 games, and averaged just over six minutes of playing time. Big 12 play has been a different matter.

Since the loss to Iowa State in early January, Dillard has been a constant presence on the floor for Brad Underwood’s team. As his playing time went up, his numbers followed. Since that January 11th game, Dillard is averaging 15.4 minutes, 6.6 points, and 3.8 rebounds. He’s also become something of a fan favorite because of his effort and dunks like this.

... and like this...

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Dillard’s rise began as the Cowboys turned around their season. The first signs that Dillard could live up to the promise he had coming in came in the loss to Kansas, where he had six points and eight rebounds off the bench. A little over a week later came his first back-to-back double digit scoring games of the season, where he scored 10 points each against TCU and Arkansas.

Dillard isn’t perfect. He still has moments where teammates (namely Phil Forte) have to keep him from overreacting to something on the court.

There are times when his emotions get the best of him, something Oklahoma State fans had heard about before. However, he has found a way to better channel those outbursts into effectiveness on the court. I have a feeling he has Brad Underwood to thank for that.

This is likely just the beginning of Dillard’s rise at Oklahoma State. Under the tutelage of Brad Underwood, he’s gone from bench warmer to vital role player in just one season. I think we are all just as excited about the future of this young man and what he can do at OSU as his family and friends will be to see him take the court against Michigan on Friday.