STILLWATER — What's this, Gallagher-Iba Arena's reputation soiled?
That's what some NBA scouts and executives — unnamed scouts and executives — would have you believe, according to a report posted on the draftnik website DraftExpress.com last week. In a story suggesting the best and worst college arenas for accommodating the evaluation of players, Gallagher-Iba ranked among the very worst.
The complaints centered around the seating arrangements, which NBA representatives said left them far above the floor with poor sight lines to the action. One director of player personnel went so far as to say “that's a ‘do not visit' venue for me.”
This is all news to Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, who acknowledges that a problem previously existed, although unknown to him, and insists such issues have been addressed.
“We heard about it last year,” Ford said. “I didn't even realize it until some people said something. And I agreed with them. They don't need to be up there. They're trying to evaluate.
“But it's changed. We addressed it before the season started. So maybe these are people who came last year.”
Mike Noteware, OSU's associate director of media relations for men's basketball, said he reached out to DraftExpress president Jonathan Givony, who wrote the story, to ask just that: are the complaints new, or from previous seasons? According to Noteware, Givony said he wasn't sure.
One thing is for sure, NBA personnel haven't stayed away from Cowboys home games.
Noteware said they continue to show up at Gallagher-Iba, and are scheduled to visit frequently throughout the season with Marcus Smart, Markel Brown and Le'Bryan Nash all in their sights as likely pros.
For Saturday's 1 p.m. tipoff against West Virginia, five scouts have requested seats. A season-high of 21 were on hand for the early season clash with Memphis, and 13 scouts have given notice of plans to be in Stillwater for OSU's next premium matchup — Iowa State on Feb. 3.
The very thing that makes the usually adored GIA such a grand arena for players and fans — those for whom the game is played — is its intimacy.
Like many college (and pro) programs, OSU now sells seats along the length of one sideline, where tables previously existed to accommodate the media and NBA types. Initially, the media and pro personnel were moved high up on one end in the 300 section, behind the basket.
Since then, a makeshift table has been established on the front row of one student section for select media, while NBA scouts and executives are provided with premium seating.
Coach Scott Brooks and general manager Sam Presti of the Thunder have been seated courtside for games. Seats have also been provided in the lowest level, both behind and across from the bench. In addition, more than 25 premium tickets are made available for purchase to scouts in the lower bowl.
Presti and other NBA personnel people have also frequented Cowboys practices in recent seasons.