Markel Brown tried to act stoic about Monday night’s game against Kansas State, his last as a Cowboy – Senior Night – inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“I’ll approach it like every game I’ve played here,” Brown said. “Go out there and play hard, play for my teammates, play for this program, just go out there and play for one another.”
But if there’s anything we’ve learned in four years of watching Brown develop from raw athlete to dunker to gamer, it’s that he’s anything but stoic.
Did you see his widespread smile, as he surfed the crowd Saturday night following Oklahoma State’s 72-65 upset of Kansas?
Then we found out that it wasn’t the first time he’d crowd surfed, that he rode the wave of students back in 2010, when the Cowboys knocked off No. 2 Missouri in Gallagher-Iba. Most interesting about that: he’d been ejected from the game, tossed for taunting following his favorite dunk, resulting in his second technical and an automatic dismissal.
“I came back out,” Brown said. “I was nervous in the locker room the whole time. I was sitting back in the locker room, ‘Coach Ford, he’s going to get me.’
“But we were able to pull it out and I snuck back out there. I don’t know if I was supposed to or not, but I came back out and celebrated my team with the fans.”
A long-term love affair has developed between Brown and Cowboys fans, who have marveled at his many SportsCenter moments, his clutch buckets and his exhausting efforts.
And his development, which is a testament to four years of game-changing work.
Brown now ranks No. 8 on OSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,562 points. Ahead of him: Byron Houston, Bryant Reeves, Adrian Peterson, James Anderson, Desmond Mason, Bob Kurland and Keiton Page.
And yes, he belongs.
Brown is the only player in school history to record at least 250 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocked shots in a career. With 557 rebounds, he’s just the second Cowboy under 6-foot-4 to reach the 500 mark, passing Randy Rutherford’s 502.
In time, he might be recalled as an OSU great.
Who could have seen this coming back when Brown was a raw rookie, averaging 6.4 points a game and shooting 39.4 percent from the floor?
“Markel Brown has been a Jayhawk killer,” said Kansas coach Bill Self, after Brown went for 21 points Saturday night. “He’s gotten better all the time. He’s a good player. He could be a pro.”
Brown might have already been a pro, but he formed the returning trio with Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash. This season hasn’t exactly gone as planned, but it’s been special in different ways for Brown.
And he will be missed.
“I don't want to think about it,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “I love Markel Brown. I love him as a young man. I really do. He's a young man who's been here for four years and is like a son. I love how he's improved every year and has grown as a man, grown as a player.
“He's going to graduate on time. We started to talk about that yesterday and I started to get (emotional). Markel has meant a lot to this program, and he's meant a lot to me as an individual.”
Senior Night should be fun.
And anything but stoic.