The optimism that surrounded the Oklahoma State basketball program prior to last season will be nearly impossible to match heading into next season. High expectations surrounded the campus as a fairly loaded roaster was returning its star and leader, Marcus Smart. Smart is now off to the NBA while Markel Brown has graduated. Just like that, the Cowboys’ two most productive assets and leading scorers are out of town.
But the list of unfortunate departures was far from over. The Cowboys lost key contributors in Brian Williams as well as their starting center, Kamari Murphy, who both transferred this offseason. So who will Oklahoma State get its production from now?
Of course, nobody on the current roster will be able to fill the All-American shoes of Smart, but the Cowboys have more options than what most believe they will. The Cowboys will be adding six newcomers, including four-star small forward, Joe Burton and four-star center, Mitch Solomon. This makes for a solid recruiting class, especially when you consider the number of roster spots left open due to a fleet of departures.
As for the returning lineup, Oklahoma State will only have three players with quality starting experience on the roster in Phil Forte III, Michael Cobbins and Le’Bryan Nash. Forte III and Nash have already proven how valuable they can be in putting points on the board, but as expected, if the Cowboys want to be able to compete with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas next season, the aforementioned returners will have to take their talents and veteran leadership to another level.
Again, the expectations for the upcoming season pale in comparison to what Smart brought in 2013, but with the few quality returnees and a slew of incoming talent with a broad opportunity to become key contributors, the Cowboys will be fine.
With Marcus Smart gone for the greener pastures of the NBA expect the Cowboys to have some early season struggles. However, if they can regroup and play solid team basketball they could be one of the surprise teams in the Big XII this season so be sure to get your Oklahoma State basketball tickets today!