STILLWATER - Just three games into his Oklahoma State basketball career, Cezar Guerrero created a Hail Cezar moment — raising his arms to a Gallagher-Iba crowd chanting his name in appreciation of a 29-point effort in a second-round NIT Tipoff win over Texas-San Antonio.
A true freshman from Los Angeles, Guerrero seemed right at home.
Monday, on the first day of classes at OSU, Guerrero announced his intention to return home, wishing to be closer to his ailing mother Martha.
Cowboys coach Travis Ford said he would assist in helping Guerrero transfer to a school closer to home.
“I really need to be near my mother during this difficult time for her,” Guerrero said in a statement released by the school. “It's a difficult decision for me, but being with my mom and family is the most important thing right now.
“It's unfortunate, because I have really enjoyed my year at OSU and being a part of the Cowboy basketball family. Coach Ford has been like a father figure to me, and I appreciate everything he's done for me, as a player and a person.
“It's disappointing for me to leave, because I think this team could be something special this season. It will be an exciting team to watch.”
Guerrero's season didn't take off following his breakout against UTSA. He averaged 5.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 32 games, including six starts. His playing time fluctuated, although he showed progress late in the season, when he posted two solid games in the Big 12 Tournament.
Once seen as OSU's future point guard, coaches were considering more of a shooting guard role for Guerrero this season. He averaged 8.8 points during the Cowboys' four-game exhibition tour to Spain.
In the school release, Marilyn Middlebrook, OSU's associate athletic director for academic affairs, said Guerrero leaves the school in “excellent” academic standing.
“I have spoken with Cezar and his brother, J.C., and understand the difficult time their family is going through,” Ford said. “We wish Cezar nothing but the best and pray for a speedy recovery for his mother, Martha.
“Cezar has been a valuable member of this team, and we appreciate all the contributions that he has made to the program. We will certainly help him in any way possible to locate a school near his home that will give him an opportunity to continue his education while also pursuing his playing career.”
The Cowboys have depth at the guard position, with returning starters Markel Brown, Brian Williams and Le'Bryan Nash, former starter Jéan-Paul Olukemi and newcomers Marcus Smart and Phil Forte all expected to warrant playing time. Kirby Gardner, a late signee out of San Bernardino Valley College, has not yet been cleared to play, but could see significant minutes if joins the roster.
Smart, Brown and Forte figure to command the minutes at the point.