Head Coach Mike Boynton, basically since the day he got hired at Oklahoma State, has been out on the road recruiting. He’s been able to keep four-star signee Zack Dawson committed to the Cowboys, and visit many other recruits and potential future signees. But as you know, two of the more impressive commitments that Boynton has been able to secure has been MAC Freshman of the Year Michael Weathers and CSUN grad transfer Kendall Smith. Now, Weathers won’t be immediately available, and due to transfer rules, he’ll have to set out the upcoming season. But according to Coach Boynton, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. For one, you’ll be able to get him into your system and teach him the Cowboy way, but also, Boynton still has Brandon Averette who brings some Big 12 experience to the backcourt, and then he brought in Smith who’s going to be a big cog in the Cowboys upcoming season.
Tom Dirato spoke with Coach Boynton this week earlier this week on Out of Bounds on Tv-31 and this is what he had to say about grad transfer Kendall Smith and the MAC Freshman of the Year transfer Michael Weathers. “What Kendall (Smith) will bring is an experienced backcourt player. A kid who can play multiple positions, who’s been around the block so to speak. And I think with losing Jawun, at this point, we felt like we needed a little bit more experience there. I love our young guys, and I think they’ll all be really good, but having a guy who’s been there, who knows what it’s like to feel those pressure moments at the highest level will be something that’s invaluable for us.”
“Tremendous upside.” said Coach Boynton to Dirato on Out of Bounds about Weathers. “Michael Weathers is a kid from south of Kansas City, so a kid who grew up in Big 12 area and seen Big 12 basketball as a kid. But was at Miami (Ohio) who Coach Cooper coached. Was the MAC Freshman of the Year. He brings a sense of competitiveness. This next year will be a challenge for him because he won’t be able to compete, he won’t be able to travel with our team but he’ll bring a sense of competitiveness to our practices that’ll help a lot of the other guys get better. And then when he’s eligible, we’ll lose Kendall and he’ll be ready to step in and be a big part of our backcourt as well. A guy who’s got tremendous athleticism, great length and a big, big skillset.”
And then you have John Cooper, former head coach of Miami (Ohio) who Boynton hired as an assistant. In terms of winning, hasn’t had a ton of success, but in terms of experience he’ll be a big asset for the Cowboys and Coach Boynton’s staff. “Tremendous human being first and foremost.” Coach Boyton said on Out of Bounds. “A guy that I’ve grown to know over the last probably 18-19 years. He was a part of the staff that recruited me to South Carolina, and I got to play for him for one year on that staff. And he’s always been about the players. He’s always been a guy who really really genuinely cares for the players in his program. Been a head coach for the last nine or 10 years or so at two different stops. Had some good success and learned a lot of valuable lessons. And those are lessons that I hope he can bring to our staff and help me beginning of my coaching tenure as a head coach.”
As an assistant coach at different stops along the way, Boynton has learned how to build strong relationships with players because you’re able to spend more time with them. Work with them more one-on-one to help them grow not only as basketball players, but as men as well. “You know, that’s probably been the easiest part of the transition for me to be perfectly honest.” said Boynton on being accepted by the current roster. “It’s just because I have such a good relationship with all the players on the current roster, I know their families. From a basketball stand point I know their strengths and I know their weaknesses. For the most part, I know what makes them tick in terms of motivating them, what their goals are. And so, that transition and helping them understand what these spring workouts are going to be about was pretty easy.
Now that Boynton's the head coach, he doesn’t see that changing at all. In fact, he may see it as an opportunity to try and get even closer to the team to let them know that he cares. “A ton. A ton.” said Coach Boynton on how much he talks to his players off the court. “I text message, call, visit with in the locker room, on the training table on a daily basis. I think it’s the most important thing we do, is develop genuine relationships with our players. So that we know how to motivate them, we know what their thinking, we know where they are mentally. But also, so that they know we care about them away from the basketball court. Because I really believe that if they know you care about them, then they’ll care what you know about basketball, they’ll listen to you and they’ll run through a wall for you at the end of the day.”
And in the first month of Boynton’s tenure at Oklahoma State, he’s been very adamant in his stance that having close relationships with players not only on the court, but off it as well. And that’s something that he feels Coach Cooper can bring to the table, and something that he’s looking for in his third assistant coach as well. There’s obviously some sense of urgency in hiring that third assistant, but Coach Boynton isn’t trying to rush around and hire just any coach. “I want to take my time and check the field and see who the best guy is for our program.” said Boynton. “Because that’s the only thing that really matters, is who’s the best guy. Certainly needs to have a sense of loyalty to our program. Having the best possible guy in that position was extremely important. So, I’m taking my time on that one, and a couple of our other staff spots as well.”
And the biggest concern that I’ve heard so far from fans, is that they’re worried the level of intensity and drive will drop now that Underwood’s left. Well, let me just say this, Coach Mike Boynton has been with Underwood since they were on Frank Martin’s staff at South Carolina. And then he went with Underwood to SFA where they had unbelievable success. Coach Boynton knows how to work hard. He knows how to be successful and he’s put himself in a position to be very successful at Oklahoma State. The roster is strong with a lot of returning talent, he’s been able to anchor that with experience and talented incoming freshman. Oklahoma State has America’s brightest orange, and I think that the future is bright for Oklahoma State Basketball and Coach Mike Boynton. “The foundation of our program will be good old fashioned hard work.” said Coach Boynton. “And if you put that together, and if you have enough talent to start with, you got a chance to be really good. And we certainly have enough talent in our locker room right now, and the guys we’ll add, I think we’ll have a chance to be very, very competitive in the Big 12 next year.”