Cowboys Pursuing Pair of JUCO Standouts

Oklahoma State has had a wonderful two-year ride that has allowed Cowboy fans to experience more wins in that span than all but Illinois and Duke. And the Pokes are the only team that have gone to the Sweet 16 or better in each of those past two seasons. But now it comes time to reload and the Cowboys may be going the way of the junior college ranks -- where they've gotten help from the likes of Mo Baker and Tony Allen in recent years -- to restock.

With the graduation (OSU players actually graduate!) of the "super six" the OSU staff made this recruiting class a priority. In fact, OSU head coach designate Sean Sutton said last summer that the 2005-2006 recruiting class would be "one of the most important in OSU history" in order to maintain the success rate that has been established and the expectations that fans now have.

On paper this mission was achieved early, as the Cowboys inked what recruiting experts agree was the top recruiting class in the nation last fall. In addition to signing two McDonald's All-American's in 6-foot-8 Gerald Green of Houston (Texas) Gulf Shores Academy and 5-10 Byron Eaton of Dallas (Texas) Lincoln, the Cowboys got three other top 100 national recruits in 6-6 Roderick Flemings of DeSoto, Texas, 6-4 Terell Harris of Garland (Texas) South Garland and 6-11 Kenneth Cooper of Monroe (La.) Ridgewood.

Now the spring recruiting wars continue on two fronts. First, the OSU coaches need to shore up this class with a junior college guard and an inside presence from the JUCO ranks. Secondly, they need to work on the class of 2006 to find the very best to bring into Stillwater with the few remaining scholarships they'll have to give.

When looking at the JUCO players who could hopefully bring in more experience and be able to contribute immediately -- along the lines of Baker and Allen in recent seasons -- two names come up more than others in 6-1 Jamaal Brown of College of Southern Idaho and 6-7 Torre Johnson of Garden City (Kans.) CC.

If Brown's name sounds familiar, it should. This is the young man who took an official visit to Stillwater prior to his sophomore season at Dixie (Utah) Junior College in the fall of 2003. He liked his visit to OSU so much that he not only committed but promptly pulled out of school and transferred back to his hometown of Chicago to attend Olive-Harvey (Ill.) J.C. His intent was to "greyshirt" and not play basketball while earning his degree so he could save his sophomore year of eligibility and still have three years to play at OSU.

Unfortunately for Brown and OSU, he did not acquire his associate's degree required to move on to the Division I level and was forced to attend school and play this season at the College of Southern Idaho. He had a very good year at CSI, averaging 15.0 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 35.0 percent from three-point range and 80.5 percent from the free-throw line in helping lead his team to a 33-3 record and a third-place finish in the national junior college tournament.

OSU's coaches felt that they could use an older, more experienced point guard to supplement true freshman Eaton, so they began to re-recruit Brown. Others (namely Illinois, OU, Missouri and Gonzaga) also thought highly of Brown and began wooing him. At this point Brown has taken OU off his wish list and OSU has a terrific shot of signing this talented playmaker in the spring signing period, which begins Wednesday and runs through most of May. Brown told the Greg Swaim Show on Monday that he will visit Gonzaga, Missouri and Illinois and then will decide between those three schools and OSU.

"I want to go to a place where I can play right away at the point and OSU needs a point guard," Brown said. "They do have Byron Eaton coming in, but need some experience and I can provide that. Illinois is close to home and I would consider them even if Deron Williams and Dee Brown stay for another year."

OSU also needs to shore up an inside game which returns seldom used but talented players like Aaron Pettway, David Monds and Frans Steyn to go along with newcomer Cooper. The 6-7 Johnson may be just guy, especially if Gerald Green goes to the NBA. Johnson averaged 21.7 points and 8.7 rebounds while blocking nearly two shots a game at Garden City this past season. He has the ability to shoot from outside like Green, but even more crucial for the Cowboys he can get a lot of rebounds and putbacks inside. Johnson also has a reputation as a defensive stopper and he may be just what the doctor ordered. Johnson (who visited OSU this past weekend) said last Friday on the Greg Swaim Show that OSU, Arizona and Tennessee were the finalists for his services. New Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl recruited Johnson while he was head coach at UW-Milwaukee.

"I felt a home at Oklahoma State," Johnson said. "They were like family and I'd like to play for either Sutton." Talented players in the class of 2006 that have the Pokes high on their list are 6-3 Obi Muonelo of Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe, 6-1 Michael Conley Jr. of Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North, 6-3 Danny Williams of Los Angeles (Calif.) Fremont and 6-9 Darrell Arthur of Dallas (Texas) South Oak Cliff. Muonelo is the top player in Oklahoma and has offers from OSU, OU, Kansas, Arizona and Florida, with possible offers forthcoming from North Carolina and Duke. Conley is a likely McDonald's All-American and has offers from the entire free world. Williams (a former AAU teammate of current Cowboy Marcus Dove) actually is a senior this season, but will likely attend a prep school in the East this next season and will be reclassified as a player in the class of 2006. Arthur is among the top 5-10 players in the country and certainly will entertain thoughts of the NBA.

Also do not be surprised if the Cowboys were to save a scholarship and possibly pick up a Division I transfer during the summer months. One player who we hear could be leaving is 6-9 Jeremy Parnell of Gosnell (Ark.), who just completed his freshman season at Mississippi.

(Greg Swaim hosts the Greg Swaim Radio Show each weekday from 1-4 p.m. on KOKP 1020AM and KOKB 1580AM and simulcasts online at

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