Brad Underwood has now spent more than three months with his Oklahoma State basketball team. After hitting the ground running after being named the Cowboys head coach on March 22, Underwood and his staff spent June getting to know the players they inherited.
Underwood was gracious enough to visit with GoPokes.com’s Terry Tush about his first 100 days on the job (which would have been June 29). You can read the two-part series (Part 1 and Part 2).
The Cowboys head coach also took the time to provide his thoughts on each and every players on the OSU roster. We’ll break it down by classification, and began with seniors (which you can read here). Here’s what Underwood had to say about the juniors. Check back for more player insights from Underwood.
Tavarius Shine, G/SF
Shine played in 25 games last season for the Cowboys, averaging 6.1 points. During a five-game stretch against Big 12 opponents in February, he averaged 10.8 points on 51.9 percent shooting on 3-pointers. Among the team’s best free-throw shooters (76.1 percent).
What role do you expect Tavarius Shine to play this season?
Underwood: He missed most of the spring with us with an injury. It set him back as far as the weight room and what he was able to do. Since June 6, he’s been raring to go. High IQ guy on the basketball floor, a guy that has great length, has the ability I think to be just an unbelievable defender; yet, a very skilled guy. I’ve been very impressed with him from the standpoint that he picks things up very quickly and adapts them to his game. That’s a rare trait, not many guys do that.
I’m excited for him two-and-a-half months from now, three months from now, to see what that weight room does for him because he’s been very, very good these early weeks of June. He’s a guy we need to be a contributor. Some of the best wings in this league are gone, and I think we’re very fortunate that we have guys that can step in and be an impact at that spot in this league, and he’s one of them.
Jeffrey Carroll, G/SF
Carroll was the best 3-point shooter on the team a year ago with Phil Forte sidelined. He made a team-high 40 shots from 3-point range on 33.3 percent, and recorded eight games with at least three makes from behind the arc.
How is Jeffrey Carroll going to contribute?
Underwood: To not downplay the other guys, [Jeffrey] has been, I don’t want to say the biggest surprise because that’s not correct, but talking about a guy that’s bought in, no one bigger than him. He was 193 pounds when we got here [in March] and now he’s 212.
He’s a guy that has not taken one second off of one thing we’ve done since we’ve been here. It’s been 100 percent to the wall, it’s been a 100 percent commitment. I’m excited. He’s athletic, his length is great, his body looks like a grown man’s body.
I think the one thing with Jeffrey, and with Tavarius, is we have to get those guys thinking and acting like all-league players. Jeffrey Carroll is a talented, talented player, and that’s something we talk every day about – why not be the best? He’s got unique athleticism and I think he can do it at both ends. He’s paying a great price this spring and summer to be good. He’s been very impressive.
Mitchell Solomon, F
Solomon will be counted on in the post this season. He averaged 3.7 points and 3.9 rebounds a year ago, starting 26 games for the Cowboys. His best performance was at Kansas with nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and a career-high three blocks.
How important is Mitch Solomon to this team?
Underewood: Mitch is probably one of the guys that intrigues me the most. Man, what a skill set. What a tremendous body. He impacted games at both ends of the court last year, and then disappeared at times. I know Mitch is buying into the weight room. He’s at 250. He looks good. He’s turned into a guy who’s winning all of our competitions. He’s turning into a guy who competes at an extremely high level.
His versatility just excites the heck out of me because he’s putting time in the gym shooting threes. He’s an incredible passer. Brilliant on the court, IQ feel. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be an impactful player on this basketball team. So I’m really excited about him.
With work comes confidence. With expectation comes confidence and responsibility. He’s going to get a heavy dose of that. He’s not an underclasseman [any more], he’s an upperclassman. He’s got game experience. He’s going to get a steady dose of responsibility thrown on those shoulders. He’s talented. I’m excited about his upside. I don’t think he’s touched how good he can be.