Markel Brown Ready To Show Improvement

The Oklahoma State basketball team is hungry to get the season underway but maybe no player is as eager to show how far he's come as sophomore guard Markel Brown.

Brown had his ups and downs as a true freshman last season for the Cowboys. He had flashes of both brilliance and immaturity.

But if this preseason has been any indication, Cowboy fans should expect to see a lot more of the former from this budding Cowboy star and the first chance to see it will be in the Pokes' preseason opener against Panhandle State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Brown, was admittedly frustrated at times last year while averaging 6.4 points and 2.5 rebounds because he always appeared to be capable of more and he took that hunger into the offseason.

"I'm very excited going into this season because last season was more of a learning season for me and I feel like I can take a lot from last year that I can add to this year," Brown said. "I felt like I needed to get better at my jump shot, free throws and attitude. During the offseason, I worked on that a lot and I think I've gotten better."

And he's not the only one who's seen the improvements he's made.

"Markel has grown up a lot and matured a lot and we hope it continues," coach Travis Ford said. "He's been a vocal leader on the court, no question about it. His competitive nature gets to him at times but, as far as players compared to this point last year, he's a different player. He's a different person."

And one of the keys to his growth has been overcoming showing his frustrations on the court, where he drew a bit of a reputation for trash talking — a reputation soon to be forgotten.

"He liked to jaw a lot and he didn't get called for it all the time either. He just has to stay focused on his game, focused on our team and focused on our gameplan," Ford said. "But I'll tell you, he's just an unbelievable guy. In the preseason he's been a fantastic leader, no question. Our strength and conditioning coach ranked him No.1 coming out of preseason. He's been the most accountable, the leader, everything. He really stood out."

That change in attitude started with coach Ford's advice but it took Brown taking it to heart to make it a reality.

"I feel like I matured a lot. Coach Ford is always telling me I'm the most improved from last year because of (how I changed) the attitude I had, as far as competition wise," Brown said. "Like, I always wanted to win and I hate losing and I think I've learned a lot from last year."

It's seldom seen as a problem having a player that hates to lose but Brown hated it so much that it became an issue that had to be addressed.

"What gets the best of him is his competitiveness," Ford said. "Gosh he hates to lose. I mean, to a fault where if things aren't going well he's going to say something. We're on top of it and he's improved in that area so that's fun to see."

Brown's growth was furthered when he had the opportunity to learn from a former Cowboy great, James Anderson, over the past few weeks.

"While (Anderson) was here I'd ask him to watch me practice and as he'd watch me he'd tell me things that I needed to do and what I didn't need to do," Brown said. "That's helped me a lot. Also, I've watched a little film on James from his years here and I think I'm going to steal some of his moves."

Stealing James Anderson's move is always a good idea but Brown has already stolen some of his most important ones — competitiveness, composure, work ethic and leadership.

And now he's passing along what he's learned to his teammates.

"Sometimes I see guys doing some of the same things I did a year ago and I keep telling them, ‘Don't do it, it's not worth it,' they kind of listen to me but sometimes you have to keep reminding them," he said. "I've learned from it and I've grown up a lot."

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