#59 Oklahoma State Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowboys
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #59
Conference Rank: #7 Big 12
Oklahoma State will want to forget the 2015-2016 campaign as quickly as possible. The Cowboys won just three Big 12 games. One of those games was against Kansas and many were close calls, but three wins is three wins. That cost Travis Ford his job and OSU went out and made a great hire with Coach Brad Underwood. He has done great things with Stephen F. Austin and there is very good reason for OSU fans to feel optimistic about the future. Getting Phil Forte III back for another go at his senior season helps too. Forte averaged 15.0 points per game back in 2014-2015 and missed all but three games last season. That was a big reason for the struggles of last season and Forte should become the program’s most prolific three-point shooter of all time.
2015-16 Record: 12-20, 3-15
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Brad Underwood
Coach Record: 0-0 at Oklahoma State, 89-14 overall
Who’s Out:
Jeff Newberry did his part to help pick up the slack for the injured Forte. During his senior season he averaged 10.8 points per game and emerged as a relatively reliable scorer, although an inconsistent shooter. Tyree Griffin started 15 games as a sophomore before deciding to continue his collegiate career elsewhere. He was not a major scoring threat, but the diminutive point guard dished out 3.9 assists per game. Joe Burton, a big 6-6 guard, provided some depth on the perimeter as well. Chris Olivier and Anthony Allen provided key depth in the frontcourt during their senior seasons. Olivier was a pretty strong interior scorer and Allen was the team’s top shot blocker despite averaging just 11.2 minutes per game.
Who’s In:
Unlike many new coaches, Coach Underwood does not have to rely on a whole slew of newcomers. The frontcourt could use a few more bodies though and Cameron McGriff should be the answer. At 6-7 and 210 pounds, he is not the biggest player around, but he is a good athlete who can help out on the glass. Lucas N’Guessan is a seven-footer, but he will likely spend some time down the bench while his game develops. Lindy Waters III leads a talented group of freshmen guards. Waters is a good shooter and should be a very dangerous scorer off of the bench. Thomas Dziagwa is a similar player who will compete with Waters for minutes off of the bench. If either Waters or Dziagwa can consistently knock down shots, they will play a big role. Brandon Averette, who followed Coach Underwood from Stephen F. Austin, figures to step into the backup point guard role.
Who to Watch:
The starting point guard job belongs to Jawun Evans. He was having a great freshman campaign before missing the last nine games of the year with an injury. In his 22 games, Evans averaged 12.9 points and 4.9 assists. After that extremely impressive freshman year, the expectations for Evans are through the roof. The backcourt also boasts wings Jeffrey Carroll and Leyton Hammonds. Carroll had a big sophomore season, averaging 8.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. He is a big 6-6 guard who can shoot and use his size to attack the basket. Hammonds is another big wing, although at 6-8 and 215 pounds, he will likely spend a lot more time at the power forward spot. He was the best rebounder on the team last year and added 10.6 points. At the four spot, Hammonds can stretch the defense with his shooting ability. At the small forward spot, he adds size to the team and greatly improves Oklahoma State’s rebounding prowess. Tavarius Shine, a 6-6 junior, is another big guard who plays solid defense and can do a bit of scoring. With a more consistent outside shot, Shine could turn into an offensive threat off of the bench instead of just a defensive threat off of the bench.
Final Projection:
Mitchell Solomon is the most experienced post player on the roster and he will be asked to carry a bulk of the burden in the paint. The 6-9 junior is not going to score much, nor is he a particularly strong rebounder, but he did start 26 games last season and should improve even more now that he is an upperclassman. Oklahoma State does not need him to score too much and as long as he can grab some boards and play solid defense, Oklahoma State will be in decent shape. With the talent on the perimeter, this is a team that can pull off some big upsets again this year, but they need to be much more consistent if they have postseason dreams. For now, a trip to the NIT is a good building block for Coach Underwood to begin his successful rebuilding of the Cowboys program.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jawun Evans, Sophomore, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Phil Forte, Senior, Guard, 13.3 points per game
Jeffrey Carroll, Junior, Guard, 12.9 points per game
Leyton Hammonds, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game
Mitchell Solomon, Junior, Forward, 3.7 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.5 (303rd in nation, 10th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (57, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.3 (256, 9)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (50, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.4 (230, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.8 (258, 8)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.9 (59, 2)
Rebound Margin: -1.2 (232, 8)
Assists Per Game: 12.2 (254, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.6 (162, 4)

Madness 2016 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#126 Cameron McGriff
#165 Lindy Waters