OSU’s basketball team is back at it in Stillwater, preparing already for a season of high hopes and expectations in 2013-14.
Most of the workouts are unofficial, although new NCAA rules allow Travis Ford and his staff to work with players on a limited basis. Ford reports that all Cowboys are present and accounted for, excepty for two — one expected and one unexpected.
Detrick Mostella, a four-star recruit out of Indiana, has been released from his letter of intent and will now attend Pittsburgh instead of OSU. Kirby Gardner, OSU’s backup point guard a year ago, will not return, as expected, as the initial odd man out in a bloated scholarship situation created when Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash all decided to return for another season.
Mostella’s absence is the bigger blow, as he figured to be a significant future piece, although his role for the upcoming season was unclear. Maybe the uncertainty of playing time was a factor in Mostella’s late change of heart. Ford wouldn’t elaborate on Mostella’s switch, but did confirm that OSU has given him a full release.
“It’s best for both parties, that’s all there really is to say,” Ford said.
Even without Mostella, the Cowboys have four new players joining the mix, making for what has to be Ford’s best roster, top to bottom. Stevie Clark, The Oklahoman’s two-time Super 5 Player of the Year; Texas prep standouts Leyton Hammonds and Jeffrey Carroll; and 6-10 juco addition Gary Gaskins are all working with OSU’s veterans to fit in not only as teammates, but as factors for the season ahead.
The Cowboys already return the previously mentioned “Big Three,” as well as Mike Cobbins, Brian Williams, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy and Marek Soucek, so minutes will be a precious commodity.
“Everybody looks great,” Ford said. “The guys we have back are all working hard and looking good. We’re excited about all the freshmen. And Gary Gaskins is so athletic and active, he’s like a pogo stick out there.”
Smart has returned to Stillwater from the gold medal experience with Team USA’s U19 team. He’s scheduled to take some time off. Markel Brown also got in some extra work, first taking advantage of an invite to Kevin Durant’s Nike camp for wing men, where he performed well enough to get an invite to LeBron James’ camp.
“It’s great having everyone around and working so hard,” Ford said.
The focus for Ford and his staff soon shifts to recruiting, with the start of another evaluation period opening Wednesday and running off and on through July 28.
Among OSU’s main targets are some of the nation’s elite prospects: 7-foot center Myles Turner of Euless, Texas; 6-3 point guard Emmanuel Mudlay of Dallas; and 6-8 power forward Craig Victor of New Orleans.
The Cowboys are battling the sport’s heavyweights for all three 5-star prospects, yet are in the mix.