STILLWATER — On the eve of Senior Night in Gallagher-Iba Arena, Terrel Harris and Byron Eaton sat in the stands and reminisced about what might have been.
The last men standing from the country’s top-ranked recruiting class in 2005, Harris and Eaton didn’t know the whereabouts of many former classmates. Speculation ranged from "I think he’s overseas” to "I hope he ain’t in prison.”
"I think about it all the time, though,” Harris said. "If we would have had all the guys stay who came here out of that recruiting class, we would have had a lot of success, I think. But it didn’t work out like that, so I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Nothing went the way I thought it was gonna go in the last four years.”
The likable senior guards, both from Dallas, say the last four years have been full of life lessons, growing pains and some good times, too.
"If I could, I wouldn’t change anything, because right now, I’m in a great position to be where I want to be,” Eaton said. "We’ve got a great chance of making it to the tournament this year. An NCAA bid would definitely be good for the school and for myself and Terrel.”
With a win tonight over Kansas State, the Cowboys’ NCAA Tournament hopes would be alive, meaning Eaton and Harris might still achieve one of their goals. But it’s safe to say the last four years haven’t been what they expected when they committed to play for legendary OSU coach Eddie Sutton.
"They went to the (Final Four) two years before, and then they went to the Sweet 16,” Eaton said. "And then, coming in, we were like the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. So how could you say no to that?”
In the last four years, Harris and Eaton have had three different head coaches and 24 different scholarship teammates. They have seen highs, beating eventual national champion Kansas last season and being ranked in the Top 10 as sophomores. They’ve endured the lows, losing in the first round of the NIT the last three years and watching their coaches pushed out of the door twice.
Individually, Eaton has struggled with his weight. Harris had to earn his way back onto the squad this fall after being suspended for violating team rules.
"If you can go through as much as me and Byron have been through since we’ve been here and still survive and still be here, you can go through anything, I think,” Harris said.
It has been an unusual journey from the beginning. Several members of the celebrated recruiting class didn’t show up to campus or were dismissed from the team before the season started.