Last week, the writers of CRFF took some time to answer some preseason questions about the 2018-19 iteration of Cowboy hoops. We’re already one game in to the season and the Pokes will be back in action in GIA on Wednesday night against UTSA. It’s a little late, but here is your hoops season predictions roundtable.
This is an incredibly young team (six of thirteen players are freshmen), how do you think youth will affect the squad this season?
Zach McCoy: I think it will lead to halves like we saw in the first half of the exhibition (sloppy). But I also think it means we’ll see tangible growth in the young core of players throughout the season.
Joel Penfield: There will definitely be some inconsistency from the squad at times this year. That’s something that comes from a young team, but even in the chaos of a bad game at times, it will be easy to see the potential this team has.
Phillip Slavin: I think there will be some growing pains this year, especially with two of their older guys — Weathers and Curtis — not playing for now. Throw in a tougher non-conference schedule than they faced in 2017 and they’re going to have a rocky start to the year. I really think this year is about setting up the future. There is talent among the new guys, and my hope is they get plenty of floor time to grow and develop.
Robert Whetsell: My doctor doesn’t even ask this many questions!
- The same way I think youth effects anything (remember, I’m old)...
- Stupid decisions will be made. Just hope it doesn’t involve physical harm or arrests.
- At moments when old people will say “Eh, I’ve had enough” young people continue battling and sometimes accomplish great things. This team will likely win a few they shouldn’t. Example:
- Old People: “I’m not playing Kansas. They’ll run us out of the building.”
- Young People: “Who’s Kansas?” (see last season)
Matt Harris: I think at the end of the season, we’ll be able to look back and point to youth as the biggest factor on the outcome of the season. There will be a lot of growing pains early on and it’ll be a theme throughout the season as nearly half the roster adjusts to playing college hoops (much less in the best conference in America) for the first time.
Micah Allen:I think there will be a lot of silly mistakes toward the beginning. I feel like this team will continue to get progressively better as the season goes on though. It’s a long season and the young players are going to have to get used to that. They’re going to have to be careful that they don’t get tired too quickly.
Which Freshman Will Have The Biggest Impact This Year?
Zach McCoy: I want to be clever and say Yor Anei, because it looks like he’ll be playing a lot of/starting at the 5, but Isaac Likekele is the only real answer. He’s the only player that looks like he’s ready to ball at this level, and I think he’s going to ball.
Joel Penfield: The obvious answer here is Issac Likelele, he showed off his talent in the exhibition game. I don’t except him to be a big scorer this season, but his ability to wreak havoc on the defensive end is what is going to make him an impact player.
Phillip Slavin: For one, Yor Anei, because I think he’s going to be the starting center for the season. He’s shown an ability to block shots, and right now, is the best option under the rim. I think he’s going to get roughed up in Big 12 play until he bulks up, but I think he’s going to be a nice piece.
Robert Whetsell: It’s highly likely it will be Likekele.
Matt Harris: I’m going to go with Isaac Likekele from baggageclaimboys. I think he’s going to be great and his teammates have said he’s been the most vocal of the freshmen. He seems like an alpha. Gimme Likely
Micah Allen: 100 percent Issac Likekele. He’s going to be huge for Oklahoma State. He’s probably the most college basketball ready out of all the freshman that came in this year and I think he’ll be a contributor early in his Oklahoma State career.
This Team Was Picked To Finish Last In The Big 12. Will They Outperform That Ranking?
Zach McCoy: Yes, after watching Baylor last night (albeit missing multiple starters) and knowing the talent lost in this league, I think this team’s guards are good enough to carry this team as high as 5th, but probably closer to 7th.
Joel Penfield: I think the ceiling for this team is around 5th or 6th in the conference. There is too much talent, despite the youth, for this team to finish last in the conference.
Phillip Slavin: Maybe a bit. I don’t think I would pick them to finish above 7th just because of the youth. I think Baylor is going to be worse, and I trust Mike Boynton to get some wins and coach this team up, but I’m not sure this is a tournament team.
Robert Whetsell: Just barely. They need more beef in the middle to withstand the Big 12 season. I’m pretty confident they’ll end up at the bottom, but it will be a hopeful campaign.
Matt Harris: I agree with Robert. There is enough overall talent on this team (especially with Weathers and Jones coming in) to finish above last. However, the youth and inexperience could sink the team as well. I believe they’ll finish better than last, but not by much.
Micah Allen: I think they finish better that last place, but not by much. I think they’re 7 or 8 in the Big 12 and go back to the NIT.
Cam McGriff Stepped Up In A Large Role For OSU Last Season. Who Is This Seasons’ Surprise In Terms Of A Guy Who Could Step Up In A Big Way?
Zach McCoy: I almost feel like this answer is cheating, because if you know, then you know. If Michael Weathers gets back in the lineup within a reasonable amount of time (and can keep his head on straight) then he is going to be a dude. I wrote about this a little already, but he’s been considered a draftable prospect already and will be a major go-to player for the Pokes.
Joel Penfield: Thomas Dziagwa could be a guy that I think will take a step forward this season. He’s looked like he’s embraced the leadership role that he has on this team, and I think it will show in his play this year. If he can be a go-to knockdown shooter for the Pokes, watch out.
Phillip Slavin: I don’t think it’s a surprise so much as a need. They need Lindy Waters to take a big step forward this year. I think he’s a really important guy, not just because he showed improved defensive play last year, but I think he can be a great source of scoring.
Robert Whetsell: Weathers or Likekele.
Matt Harris: Curtis Jones has to be a strong candidate. He’ll give this team a good injection of energy when he becomes eligible at the end of the semester. Weathers and Lindy Waters are also players to watch here.
Micah Allen: I think it’s Lindy Waters. As the leading returning scorer you have to think he’s going to make an impact and have a big year. He’s going to be a leader and team captain this year so you have to think the team thinks he’ll step up as well.
What Impact Will The Transfers Bring To The Table? (Weathers, Jones, Cunningham)
Zach McCoy: See above for Weathers. I think Cunningham offers some senior leadership and stability which is a valuable commodity on such a young team. I expect him to be one of the better decision-makers and help the team get through adverse situations, like closing games at the point. Cujo comes with a ton of natural talent and potential that hasn’t been realized yet in college. Hopefully a change of scenery will help him get comfortable and allow him to be a solid scorer off the bench.
Joel Penfield: I like Mike Cunningham running the point, he has a similar skill-set to what Kendall Smith brought last year, and it works in this offense. When Michael Weathers is eligible to play again, he will be an impact scorer right away. Curtis Jones is going to be a another guy who I think will be an impact scorer playing big minutes off the bench when he is eligible at the end of the semester.
Phillip Slavin: A ton. I think Likelele gets the start at point guard for most of the year, but having Cunningham, a guy with experience, to back him up is huge. Really, that’s what they all bring; depth of experience. With a team as young as this Cowboy team is, having that is going to be huge if they want to reach the NCAA tournament.
Robert Whetsell: As we’ve seen over the past several seasons, experienced transfers can have a HUGE impact. Let’s hope Weathers can keep his slate clean going forward as I think he could be a difference maker.
Matt Harris: They’ll bring an enormous impact to the table this year. Cunningham is the only player on the team that isn’t a freshman, sophomore or junior. Weathers put up excellent numbers at Miami (OH) and Jones is a former high-level recruit that can really play. They’ll be the backbone of the team along with McGriff, Waters and Dizzy.
Micah Allen: They’re going to bring that extra leadership. With so many guys being freshmen this year, you need to have some experience on the floor. That’s what the these transfer bring. They bring more people to the team that have been around the program before.
Who Is Your Cowboy Hoops Player Of The Year?
Zach McCoy: Weathers. Seriously, if they can gel he will make everyone else better and will be All-Big 12 level good.
Joel Penfield: Cam McGriff. He can do everything well on both ends of the floor. I said it at the end of last season, but if he can improve on what he did then, it would not surprise me to see him on the All-Big 12 First Team squad.
Phillip Slavin: I want to say Weathers, but with what happened in the offseason I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m going to go with Waters. I think he’s been asked to take on a big role and is going to do so. I really am expecting big things from him.
Robert Whetsell: Likekele.
Matt Harris: Weathers is probably the trendy pick but I’m going to go with Cam McGriff. He’s currently to go-to-guy on the team (not that that can’t change) but he’s the best stretch player on this team, the best combination of scoring and rebounding of anyone. I’ll take McGriff.
Micah Allen: I’m going to say Cameron McGriff. The dude is a monster and I think he steps up in a big way during a year where he possibly could be looking at going to the next level. I also think he brings a fire to this team that they’ll need this year.
The 2019 Recruiting Cycle Is Complete. Just For Fun, Where Does The 2020 Class Land Nationally And Does Boynton Pull In His First 5-Star Guy?
Zach McCoy: I’ve said this before but the 2020 class has a chance to be massive. The Cowboys will have somewhere around 4 spots to fill in this class and have some massive targets on the board. Depending on how this year and next year go, I think that class could definitely finish somewhere in the 10-15 range. I don’t think there chances are great for any of the current 5-stars but the guys to keep an eye on are Isaiah Todd (made an unofficial on his own dime to OSU over the past summer), Jaemyn Brakefield (bros with Maurice Calloo), and Cade Cunningham (has spoken highly of OSU and Boynton). In my opinion, they have better odds of one of their high 4-star prospects getting elevated to 5-star status (Bryce Thompson, Earl Timberlake, Henry Coleman). Neither are necessarily likely, but I’m gonna give Boynton the benefit of the doubt and say one of those scenarios comes true and he lands a 5-star guy in 2020.
Joel Penfield: I am not as well-versed in the ways of recruiting, but I think what Boynton has done so far is exceptional. That was the biggest litmus test for most people, if he would be able to recruit to Stillwater. So far he has done it, and it would not surprise me if he managed to pull a 5-star out of this next class, or at the very least a high-ceiling 4-star.
Phillip Slavin: That’s hard to say. He’s going to pull in a 5-star at some point, but I don’t think that’s going to come until they can reach the NCAA tournament. I think the 2020 class will be another good one, just because of how hard Boynton works on the recruiting trail. As far as national finish, I would probably put it at top-25.
Robert Whetsell: At the rate he’s going, I don’t think it matters. If he keeps nabbing 4* talent, Boynton will turn that into a really good squad in short order.
Matt Harris: Boynton gets another impressive haul and finishes with a top-20 class. He narrowly misses nabbing a 5-star guy but lands in the top five for two such guys. A trio of ESPN 150 guys gets this class its rank. I think Boynton finally gets that breakthrough marquee recruit in the class of 2021.
Micah Allen:I’m really bad at predicting this kind of thing but I think they’ll be a decent team in 2020. They’ll recruit a top 20 class. Do I think Boynton lands a 5-star this soon? Probably not but it is possible. He’s a fantastic recruiter.
Season And Conference Record Predictions?
Zach McCoy: 9-12 overall with a 9-9 conference record. This is contingent upon Weathers only missing 2-3 games, but hear me out. I think the Pokes can navigate their tougher non-con with only 2-3 losses (Villanova, Nebraska, Houston). Then, to be .500 in conference you need to protect home court against all but a couple (e.g. Kansas, K-State, WVU) and steal a couple back on the road (e.g. OU, Baylor, Tech). The Cowboys also only face 1 of their 6 matchups with WVU, KU, and KSU, before February. This is good for that developing young core.
Joel Penfield: Basketball is a very fluky sport so it’s hard to make a true prediction of record. I’ll just go with what I said in question 3, with Oklahoma State finishing 5th or 6th in the conference. Finishing in that spot could make Oklahoma State a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament, or another berth to the NIT.
Phillip Slavin: With a far more difficult non-conference schedule, I think they take a step back there. I’ve got them 9-4 in non-conference and 7-11 in conference play for a 16-15 regular season.
Robert Whetsell: The IRS thinks this is too many questions (cranky old person alert). Non-conference is a bit of a mystery to me, so I’m going with 10-13 wins total. As for Big 12 play, I’d be tickled to death if they could muster up 7-8 wins, but wouldn’t be shocked if the number was 5. Big 12 is also a bit of a guess as it’s not 100% clear to me what the stage looks like after Kansas.
Matt Harris: This team will struggle mightily with experience and finish with a good-not-great record in non-con and find a way to win eight games in Big 12 play. I don’t think the Big 12 is exceptionally talented this year, but there aren’t any truly bad teams either. The conference is incredibly deep and will likely yield two Sweet 16 teams, but seven of 10 will go dancing. I’ll give the Pokes a 17-14 record and eighth in the conference and a return to the NIT.
Micah Allen: I think teams finishes just around .500 in conference play. I think it’s a little below .500 for overall season record.