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OSU basketball: Le'Bryan Nash hints at returning to Cowboys next season

Nash isn’t fully committing to a return next season, but he’s sure hinting at it strongly.
by John Helsley Published: March 7, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma State wing Le'Bryan Nash (2) shoots in front of Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, March 1, 2014. Oklahoma State won 72-65. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma State wing Le'Bryan Nash (2) shoots in front of Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, March 1, 2014. Oklahoma State won 72-65. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

AMES, Iowa – Le’Bryan Nash’s growth and development continue, making his junior year his best yet at Oklahoma State.

Now, how about a senior sendoff?

There’s still work to be done this basketball season, including Saturday’s visit to Iowa State. Beyond the immediate, Nash’s ride as a Cowboy – begun when he donned that orange ten-gallon foam hat on signing day at Dallas Lincoln High School – might not be ready to drift into the sunset just yet.

Nash isn’t fully committing to a return next season, but he’s sure hinting at it strongly.

“I’m still thinking about this year,” Nash said. “It’s still a journey this year. You always have it in the back of your mind, being a senior and the chance to get a degree, too.

“Being a senior, that’d be exciting for me.”

Nash could opt to enter the NBA Draft, although he currently projects as a fringe second-round pick. Playing professionally in the D-League or overseas are also options.

Or he could come back, advance his game further and finally fulfill the expectations – perhaps unfairly – heaped on him as one of the nation’s top-ranked incoming freshmen three years ago.

“I’m 50-50 right now,” Nash said. “I really don’t have any thoughts of it right now, to be honest. I do think about senior year, I don’t know if that says anything about what I’m favoring, but I really do think about it a lot.

“I also think about the NBA. So I’m going to say 50-50.”

Senior Night came and went at OSU, with seniors Markel Brown and Mason Cox recognized, along with sophomore Marcus Smart.

But there was no Nash, who along with Smart and Brown so famously and publicly announced their plans to return last March.

“Everybody thought he’d leave for sure this year,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “I don’t think it’s definite at all. We haven’t talked much about it. I do know if he came back, it’d be an opportunity to continue to get better and garner some incredible recognition and accomplish a lot.

“There are so many things he could accomplish. But I want to leave it up to him and what he wants to do.”

A Senior Night nod was discussed by the player and coach, but Nash said he told Ford he wasn’t sure about leaving. Or staying.

Nash said he’s been influenced by observing Brown, who grew his game through four seasons and enjoyed a four-year run as a Cowboy. And while they are different players, he does recognize similarities in their situations.

“When I see Markel getting better, that helps me a lot,” Nash said. “I see a guy who’s come from not having an elite role to now being the scorer of our team, working on his shot and his ballhandling – everything that he can – to make himself better. And now he’s one of the best two guards in the country.

“I thank him for showing me something. Work can get you a long way.”

Nash, too, has put in the work. And to positive results.

While his scoring average has remained relatively static, ranging from 13.3 as a freshman to 14.4 this season, his offensive game has become much more efficient. His field goal percentage has jumped from 39.4 to 46.2 to a Big 12-best 52.9 this season. And he’s averaging a career-high 5.7 rebounds.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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