Head coach Travis Ford wanted to run an up-tempo style here at Stillwater, and he might now have the bits in place to execute it. Oklahoma State was led almost single-handedly to the NCAA Tournament last season by James Anderson, who Ford had to build the team around. Oklahoma State went 22-11 and earned an at-large bid last year before losing in the first round. Anderson contributred 22.3 PPG to top the Big 12 and 5.8 RPG. Obi Muonelo is the other big loss for the Cowboys. Still, the team returns quite a few important players and brings in five potential impact recruits that are a better fit to run the fast paced style Ford believes in.
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Matt Pilgrim ultimately came around at the end of last season after transferring from Kentucky, putting up 10.9 PPG and 8.0 RPG over his final 12 games. He is a outstanding athlete who can run the court and is the perfect forward in Ford’s system. Senior Marshall Moses must be much better on and off the court after a disappointing junior season. Junior college transfer Darrell Williams is a 6’8” 250-pounder who does a good job of clogging up the middle. J.P. Olukemi joined the program last January and competed against James Anderson every day while redshirting. He is more of a penetrating forward who raised eyebrows while learning from one of the tops in the nation. Forward Roger Franklin and center Jarred Shaw gained valuable experience while playing as true freshman last season. 6’8” freshman Michael Cobbins has the worth ethic and skills to be a future solid for Oky State, but must bulk up if he’s going to be able to handle the grind of a brutal Big 12 schedule.
Point guard Ray Penn was hurt last February with a knee injury, but is expected to be at 100% this year. Ford thinks he will be the catalyst of this offense, running the fast-break. Freshman Markel Brown led Peabody Magnet High to the Louisiana Class-4A Championship by putting up 32 points en route to leading his team to an unbeaten 41-0 record. He is versatile and can fill in either the 2 or the 3, and should be the ideal player to help fill the holes left by Anderson and Muonelo. Keiton Page had to play the one when Penn got hurt, but should be able to get back to his more comfortable role of knocking down the 3-pointer. Senior Nick Didorakis has been named a captain due to his all out hustle on both sides of the floor, and his smarts. Fred Gulley, Reger Dowell and freshman Brian Williams will likely be role players.
Jack’s Pick: 7th Place in the Big 12 – Just like most coaches in their third year on a new team, Ford has his players in position. He has a more athletic and versatile squad to run the up-tempo style he covets. The conference is certainly up for grabs this season, and even with the departures of Anderson and Muonelo the Cowboys have enough ability to make some noise. A third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth is likely, especially if Penn can stay healthy and Brown can live up to the hype.
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