Oklahoma State's expectations for a bounce-back season received some degree of confirmation Thursday.
In a polling of the conference's coaches, sophomore Le'Bryan Nash was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team and Marcus Smart was named Preseason Freshman of the year.
There's backing for optimism at Oklahoma, too, with Amath M'Baye tabbed as Preseason Newcomer of the Year and Romero Osby and Steven Pledger both receiving honorable mention status to the All-Big 12 Team.
OSU finished 15-18 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12, while the Sooners went 15-16, but both are looking to move up in the conference standings.
For the Cowboys, Smart gives the program back-to-back top freshmen nods, after Nash took the preseason honor a year ago. Smart, also an honorable mention pick for the team, was named a Freshman All-American by Sporting News earlier in the week.
“Marcus worked extremely hard and accomplished a lot in high school to earn and deserve this reputation as one of the top freshmen in the country,” OSU coach Travis Ford said. “We look forward to him making an immediate impact on our basketball team.”
Nash averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds a year ago for the Cowboys. In conference play, where he started all 18 games, he averaged 14.7 points and 5.1 boards.
M'Baye sat out last season after transferring from Wyoming, where he started all 31 games as a sophomore, averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds, with 29 blocked shots. The 6-foot-9 forward was one of the team's top players in practices and is expected to start immediately and provide a boost to the Sooners.
“Amath's versatility is probably what will pose the biggest challenge for opponents,” said OU coach Lon Kruger. “He's mobile for a 6-9 guy, allowing him to go out to the perimeter. But he's also big enough to take a smaller guy in the mid-post and score over him.
“Plus he competes hard, has a passion for the game, is a good leader and takes care of business in every way.”
Osby is the Big 12's leading returning rebounder (7.3), while Pledger is the league's leading returning scorer (16.2).
The Big 12 preseason projected order of finish will be released next week.