Open in App
The Oklahoman

'We needed a reset': Why Oklahoma State's Mike Boynton believes roster upheaval is good

By Jacob Unruh, The Oklahoman,


STILLWATER — Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton was told of a graphic making the rounds on social media this summer he wanted to believe was false information.

His Cowboys return the fourth-most experience in the Big 12 this season.

Yes, a team with just three scholarship players from last season still on the roster.

“I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way,’” Boynton said of the stat. “‘How could we not even be 15th out of 14 teams?’ But that’s everybody. I thought we’d be in the bottom third but to be clearly in the first half is kind of the state of college athletics.

“It’s something we just have to adapt to. It’s not necessarily the ideal way to do college athletics in my view, but it’s the reality of what we’re dealing with now.”

And there is a harsh truth for OSU.

The Cowboys needed a reshaped roster.

“This is with a great deal of respect for all the young men who left the program — most of which graduated, so very proud of that — but we needed a reset,” Boynton said. “And it came at a really good time because there is a great opportunity out there to re-establish a foundation of what Oklahoma State basketball needs to look like.”

More: Big 12 men's basketball schedule release takeaways for OU Sooners, OSU Cowboys

And just two days into official practices to open a crucial season, Boynton is pleased with the new direction of a team built on youth with a mix of veterans in key places.

Though, the changes did not exactly come easily.

Around a month after OSU’s disappointing season ended in the NIT Tournament, Boynton had a roster of Bryce Thompson, Quion Williams and John-Michael Wright.

“I don’t know if I want to play Stillwater High School,” Boynton said. “I think we’d be all right. But we only got three now.”

But a highly-touted freshman class arrived. So did veteran transfers Jarius Hicklen, Mike Marsh and Javon Small along with 7-foot-1 redshirt freshman Isaiah Miranda.

Boynton and the rest of his coaching staff also did a hard gutcheck.

“Part of the reset was us as a staff looking in the mirror and figuring out how we can be better, how we can challenge the team to maximize its ability,” Boynton said. “In all honesty, we know we fell short last year. We own that. I own that because it falls on my lap.

“We’re determined and vowing to get our program back to national prominence. This summer was really important to laying a foundation with a bunch of new guys that weren’t predisposed to anything in our program, really.

“It was really good just to reset the expectations.”

More: Oklahoma State's Eric Dailey Jr. making most of shot with Team USA at FIBA U19 World Cup

Jarius Hicklen comes full circle with Cowboys

Hicklen was a late bloomer on the recruiting circuit out of DeSoto (Texas) High. Still, he landed in Oklahoma anyway.

But at Division II Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee.

“I trusted Coach (Jason) Eaker,” Hicklen said. “He trusted me to come in there as a freshman, so it was great.”

Hicklen, a sharp-shooting guard, spent two seasons with the Bison before transferring to North Florida, where he spent the past two seasons.

Now, he’s back in Oklahoma. And with the Cowboys he gets a chance to face his old coach and program.

The Cowboys host OBU for a preseason exhibition on Nov. 1.

“Playing them this year, it’s going to be full circle,” Hicklen said. “It’s amazing.”

More: Big 12 women's basketball schedule release takeaways for OU Sooners, OSU Cowgirls

Meet OSU's Uncle Mike

Marsh, a 6-foot-10, 250-pound center, turned 24 over the summer. Two weeks later, new freshman Justin McBride turned 18.

That is quite an age difference.

“Marshall is an adult,” Boynton said. “I think the guys call him, ‘Uncle Mike.’”

Older or not, the Jacksonville transfer is the big, physical presence the Cowboys need in the paint, especially when Big 12 play begins in January.

And he understands that role.

“Physicality, just being a leader, being vocal, all of those things are going to matter in today’s game, especially in the Big 12,” Marsh said.

Oklahoma State men's basketball: Tracking Cowboys' arrivals, departures in transfer portal

Non-conference schedule offers challenges

OSU released its complete schedule Tuesday along with the unveiling of the entire Big 12 schedule.

Among key dates for the Cowboys are another trip to Brooklyn on Nov. 16-17 against St. Bonaventure and either Auburn or Notre Dame, a Big East showdown with Creighton on Nov. 30 and a neutral site game in Oklahoma City’s Paycom Center against Tulsa.

“I think we found a schedule that’s going to be for this team,” Boynton said. “Challenging them in different ways, getting us away from here, we got a couple neutral sites.

“And then being able to maybe build some momentum at home. It’s one of the areas we’ve not done as well, in all honesty. We haven’t protected our homecourt in a way that we should be able to at this level.”

Jacob Unruh covers Oklahoma State athletics for The Oklahoman. Have a story idea for Jacob? He can be reached at or on X/Twitter at @jacobunruh . Sign up for the Oklahoma State Cowboys newsletter to access more OSU coverage. Support Jacob’s work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at or by using the link at the top of this page.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: 'We needed a reset': Why Oklahoma State's Mike Boynton believes roster upheaval is good

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment
Local Texas State newsLocal Texas State
Most Popular newsMost Popular

Comments / 0