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Brad Underwood: Player-by-Player Analysis

Oklahoma State head basketball coach Brad Underwood provides his thoughts on each of the Cowboys sophomores – Jawun Evans (pictured above), Davon Dillard and Will Lienhard.

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). If you missed it, here are links to 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 (here are the early stories on Underwood’s thoughts on the Phil Forte and the seniors and the Cowboys juniors, including Mitchell Solomon). Below are Underwood's thoughts on the team’s sophomores. Check back for more player insights from Underwood.

Jawun Evans, PG
6-1, Soph.
The Big 12 Freshman of the Year last season despite missing the last nine games due to a shoulder injury. He led all Big 12 freshmen in scoring (12.9 points), assists (4.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), field goal percentage (47.9) 3-point field goal percentage (47.5) and free throw percentage (83.3).

What do you think about Jawun Evans?
Underwood: Jawun is a little bit like Tavarius in that he didn’t do anything all spring. He’s coming off a major [shoulder] injury, and that’s not to be taken lightly. He sat, I say sat because he wasn’t allowed to run, he wasn’t allowed to do very, very little for four and a half, five months. So he’s been cleared.

He’s got a lot going on right now. He’s back working out. He’s back in the weight room. I’m excited for him because it’s huge summer. Last summer he didn’t get to lift because he was with USA Basketball, and he didn’t get to lift this spring [because of the injury]. So now for the first time, he’s fully into a weight program, and he’s going to see his body change. All of that time off, getting back into shape. He’s taking baby steps.

We all know that his talent is there. So he’s going through that whole transition. We’re going to see his best basketball in the fall. Right now is just a progression for him, step by step through the conditioning, through the rehab and then the weight room. Wonderful kid, wonderful guy. I have a tremendous liking for him. He’s been extremely hard working, he’s been extremely dedicated.

He’s obviously proven that he can perform and that gives us one of the better duos with he and Phil. I think they’re Batman and Robin in terms of how well they play off each other and play together. He’s growing. He’s getting back to where he’s gaining confidence every day with the shoulder, with his game, with his body. That’s been his biggest challenge, and will be throughout the summer, just getting comfortable again.

Did you have to re-recruit him to Oklahoma State?
Underwood: In today’s world, when there’s a coaching change and there’s 700 transfers, you never quit re-recruiting your players or talking to your players. We do that really with all the young guys. Change is hard. For 18- to 22-year-olds, it’s hard. They knew a certain way, and certain people. You get tied in during the recruiting process with people.

So it was just a matter of them getting to know me, and then my staff. It’s a process, and it’s about comfort and it’s mutual. It’s got to be where there’s a comfort level both ways. It’s not just Jawun, but Tavarius, Mitchell and all of those guys. It’s the world of college basketball today.

We are who we are. We talked about what we stand for and how we’re going to try to do things – winning, academics and everything else. Absolutely, you sit down and talk about what we’re going to emphasis, and what’s important, and how we’re going to help those young people individually. It’s always a process, even when you’re not taking over a new job. There are 700 of those guys running around here this offseason.

Davon Dillard, G/SF
6-4, Soph.
Dillard spent much of his freshman season in the doghouse of former head coach Travis Ford, and only appeared in seven games. He may have been given a second chance at OSU with the hiring of Underwood.

Cowboys fans don’t know much about Davon Dillard. What can you tell us about him?
Underwood: Arguably our most talented athlete. Jeffrey in one way and Davon in another way have made the greatest changes. I’ll be honest, I didn’t hear a whole lot of positives about Davon. Suspended, this and that [last season] … and yet when I talked to our strength coach, he worked hard, [and] no problems. When I talked to the academics, worked hard, no problems, did what we asked. Strived to be successful. So that put a positive spin, let me build a relationship, let me communicate. He has dropped 20 pounds.

He’s a guy that lives in the gym. He’s a guy that has tremendous, tremendous personality. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by his personality. We did an event for Feed The Children the other night, and we’re loading boxes, and they wanted all of our players to do a little skit to end to Oklahoma [men’s basketball team], as sort of a challenge to them. Davon Dillard led it. He’s got that kind of personality. He’s fun. The young man’s in the office all the time. And a very talented player. I’m still getting to know his game. I love his body, I love his athleticism, I think he’s got just a toughness about him that.

I think we have three wings in T. Shine, Jeff and Davon that can all play multiple positions, and they can all do things based on their athleticism and their length. Davon’s well on his way to having a breakout-type season.

The fans will be pleased to hear your thoughts on Davon because many had the same thoughts as you?
Underwood: As difficult as change is sometimes, it works the other way for some kids. He’s been really bought in.

Will Lienhard, F
6-7, Soph.
Lienhard walked on to the Cowboys team a year ago after an outstanding high school career at Bishop McGuinness in Oklahoma City.

What can you share about Will Lienhard?
Underwood: I think very little was expected of Will last year. I think there’s a lot expected of Will this year. I think that he’s got a natural gift, he’s got an incredible body, I think he’s a guy that can score the ball in a variety of ways. He’s left-handed so he’s got a lefty, jump hook.

He’s an intelligent player.  I think defensively, he can give us something. I’m excited about him. I think he’s another guy because very little was expected or maybe demanded and that role is changing. I’ve got him to thinking about being an active participant. He’s got a great gift with that body, where he can be 6-9, 240 and cut, he can really run. I think he’ll be a different player when we start school in August then he is right now, just in terms of conditioning. He’s a guy I’m excited about.


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