Ford Taking Nash to Kansas City

With Big 12 Media Days approaching for men's basketball, coach Travis Ford has settled on two of the three players he plans on taking to Kansas City on Oct. 19-20. And one of them is an uncharacteristic selection for Ford.

Ford said his easy selection was the Cowboys' senior captain, Keiton Page, but the next one he had to be talked into a little bit — freshman forward LeBryan Nash.

There is plenty of excitement swirling around the 6-foot-7 former McDonald's All-American but Ford wasn't a fan of heading up to Kansas City with a freshman. Ford offered a lengthy explanation of what led to his decision.

"I think it does bring good publicity for our basketball program," Ford said. "I had my reservations and (basketball sports information director Mike Noteware and I) sat and talked about it, just like we always do three or four weeks ahead of time. It's always a 30-45 minute discussion on who I want to take and why and why not. The obvious one was Keiton Page but I wanted to take more than one.

"Noteware brought up LeBryan Nash first and I was like, ‘No, I'm not going to take a freshman at this point.' The he brought up that Texas and Baylor are programs that have done a lot of that lately, I know Perry Jones was there and Tristan Thompson and different guys were there. I asked him why that was and he said, ‘Well, because people want to hear from them.' Then I thought, ‘Well, that's what the day is for. If we're going to go up there we need to take guys that people want to hear from.' It doesn't mean that we don't have others that are deserving but I think everyone on our team understands that LeBryan has a big name; not that that means anything, but that's how we came to that decision. I think we're going to take three but I haven't decided on the other yet."

In addition to the fact that fans and media want to hear from the preseason Big 12 freshman of the year, Ford said the decision to take Nash is also a reward for how he has performed through the summer, both athletically and academically.

"He's been very good," Ford said. "Especially coming out of summer workouts, it was good to hear that the two people he worked with — Jake Manzelmann, our strength and conditioning coach, and Marilynn Middlebrook, our academics person — I tried to tell them what type of person he was because I think LeBryan has gotten labeled a certain way but they were like, ‘Wow, he's different than what I thought he would be.' That's good."

Nash came to OSU with a bit of a negative stigma attached to him that he was lazy and didn't have much of a work ethic but, according to Ford, he and his staff have seen the exact opposite in almost every way.

"As far as him being on time, being accountable and doing the right things; he's done everything that was asked of him during the summer," Ford said. "For me, it's been a hard six or seven weeks of individual (workouts) and everything but I have had zero problems with him being late or being respectful or anything. He's one of the most humble guys (I've been around), as far as personality. Now, do we have to get on him to work hard everytime he's in there? Yes. That's typical of any freshman but it's not to the extent people thought. I think he's just gotten a bad reputation."

That said, Ford did admit that Nash still has to be pushed to be more assertive on offense but that is something that will come with the territory as he gains more experience and builds a comfort level with the team's style of play.

"He's been good thus far but we still have to push him to understand how hard he's going to have to work every day and the level of intensity it takes because, again, it's his demeanor, and as you get to know him you'll see, he's just a very, very laid back kind of guy," Ford said. "He just likes to observe things and kind of see what's going on around him. We've had to be like, ‘Let's go. Go, go, go! Let's kick it into the next gear.'

"We've gotten him to that point at times for five and six-minute segments. I've seen that in him in high school and AAU where he, a lot of times, only turned it on when the game was tight or on the line and then he just took over. Those are some of the habits we have to get him out of. But, as far as the rest of it, he's been great; he's a great kid."

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