Oklahoma State had a great opportunity to claim the Big 12 conference title last season. The Cowboys got off to a less than ideal start to conference play, dropping three games in January. However, they bounced back strong winning seven conference games in a row. The most outstanding win during that streak was the 85-80 victory over Kansas in Allen Field House. Despite having one of the most outstanding players in the country with point guard Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State was simply unable to win key games against Kansas and Iowa State resulting in the Cowboys securing the 3rd spot in the Big 12 after Kansas and Kansas State.
This offseason is extremely critical for Oklahoma State. After being upset by Oregon in the first round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, Cowboys fans everywhere are holding their breath anxiously awaiting decisions from two vital players who are struggling with the decision to bolt for the NBA Draft, or stay another year in Stillwater. With only two recruits in the top 100 coming in, retention rather than reformation should be Oklahoma State’s focus this offseason.
While Smart is yet to declare for the NBA Draft, it would shock the world if he decided to remain in college another year after being a projected top 5 pick. Oklahoma State’s 2013-2014 college basketball season lies in the hands of sophomore Le’Bryan Nash and junior Markel Brown. Nash is a 6-7, 230 pound forward who can stretch the floor and can hold his own down low with a vast arsenal of post moves. While Nash has shown flashes of greatness, he has been horribly inconsistent. Another year under Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford would do Nash wonders and could turn him into a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Junior guard Markel Brown is an absolute scoring machine that can score from all areas of the court. Brown averaged 15.3 points per game last season and shot 43 percent from the field. While the entire country knows that Brown can score the ball, what people lose sight of is his leadership and ability to run the offense. The length and sheer athleticism of Brown makes him a difficult 2-guard match up for all teams.
Oklahoma State is presented with a remarkable opportunity. Kansas is losing their entire starting lineup and Kansas State is graduating their top scorer and senior leader Rodney McGruder. If the Cowboys can hold onto both Nash and Brown, they will be the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 and finally put an end to the Kansas title run before it reaches double digits.