Sean Sutton Q&A

Sean Sutton has spent most of the last month on the road recruiting. We were able to catch up with the Oklahoma State head coach Tuesday afternoon, and he shared some of his thoughts on the upcoming season, which of the seven newcomers he expects to contribute right away, whether JamesOn Curry will return for his senior year, and much more.

Go Pokes: Are you looking forward to the players getting back here for the summer and preparing for next season?
Sean Sutton: I'm excited. I really like this recruiting class, and I really like the guys on the team that we have coming back. Next year's team is going to be a lot different. It's going to be high character kids, which has been the staple of our program over the years. I'm looking forward to having those type of kids in our program again, being around them and coaching them every day. We'll be young but I think there's a pretty good mix of balance in terms of veteran players and younger players. I think it will be a good combination. But the biggest thing is we've got talented players that are going to work hard, that are going to listen, and that are going to play their butts off every day. After going through last year I'm excited about the number of options that we'll have this year. Just being able to have great practices every day and having competition on a daily basis. And they're good people. It's going to be fun.

GP: Who are some of the newcomers who you expect to have an immediate impact?
SS: I think James Anderson will be a big-time player throughout his career here. He's somebody that I think will make a big impact on next year's team. We've got to not put too much pressure on him, and feel like he's going to come in and be the savior. He's an extremely talented player who can shoot the ball, and he'll play a lot and probably challenge for a starting position. Martavious Adams has got a Big 12 body already. He's strong and physical. He scores the ball pretty well. He's tough. I think he has a chance to make an impact as a freshman. Marshall Moses is another guy who physically has a great body, is athletic and can play a couple different positions. Brad Garrett is one of the best shooters that was out there – high school or junior college. The fact that he's older (will turn 22 this month) and he's got three years left to play, and he comes from a system where they get up and down the court and score. He can really, really shoot. Anthony Brown has a chance to challenge for a starting position. He's a big, strong, physical inside player and has a knack for getting the ball in the basket, and that's something we have to have. When you look at the make up of our team for next year, and the guys we have coming in, we really needed a player like him. Throughout the whole recruiting class we've addressed about every need other than the point guard position, and we'll see what happens on that.

GP: Speaking of the point guard position, how important is Byron Eaton getting his weight under control to the team's success next season?
SS: It's huge, and he knows that. He's down to two years left (to play), and he hasn't come close to reaching his potential as a player. It all has to do with his weight. He made some strides this year. I thought he really competed and played hard when he was out there; he just didn't do it for long, extended periods. He's just so much of a different player when he's in condition and in shape. I told him that he needs to get down, and if I have to stay after him every day than that's what's going to happen. He needs to get down to 205 pounds. So far he has not lived up to the player he ought to be, and he knows that more than anybody. He owes it to himself, he owes it to his family, and he owes it to this program to get in shape so that he can be the player he ought to be.

GP: Did you encourage JamesOn Curry to explore his options and enter the NBA Draft?
SS: I told him that I would support his decision if he wanted to gauge his stock in the NBA. We're at a place right now where underclassmen like him can go and test the waters, go to workouts and try to get an accurate gauge of where they are and what they need to work on.

GP: It's really a win-win situation for those players, right?
SS: As long as he doesn't alter his thinking. That's the thing I try to tell him and caution him against. As long as he keeps his thought process what it was and what it is (that he will pull his name out of the draft before the June 18 deadline if he is not guaranteed of being a first-round selection), it's a situation that he ought to come out of and it will be really beneficial for him. But I've seen guys who say that if I'm not in the first round I'm coming back but all of a sudden they get out there and start getting bad information, people start telling them that this team loves you or that team loves you and you need to stay in the draft. You may not be a first round pick but you'll be in the first five or 10 picks of the second round. They settle for something that they initially weren't going to, just to be drafted. It's really important that we provide him with accurate information that's going to help him make the best decision. As long as he stands by what his initial plan was then he'll come out of it fine. If he's got a chance to go in the first round, and he plays that well (at the pre-draft camp and in workouts), then as his coach I would say that he probably ought to take that opportunity because it's hard to get drafted in the first round. But if he's not going to then there are a lot of advantages in coming back, especially with next year's team. Going into the preseason he would be one of the three guys that would be (top candidates) preseason player of the year in the Big 12. It would be him, (Mario) Chalmers or (D.J.) Augustin, providing that (Brandon) Rush doesn't come back. So he's for sure to be first-team All-Big 12 in the preseason, and would have a chance to be one of the top players and scorers in this conference. Playing on a really good team his senior year is important to him. I don't think he felt very good about the last two years. I think he'd like to have a season like he did as a freshman and leave this program on a high note, and by winning that helps his chances (in the NBA Draft next year). He could be the Acie Law of next year. Being a senior, he could have that type of impact, not only in this league but he could be the guy that really moves up and increases his stock by making improvement over the summer, having a great senior year and being part of a really good team.

GP: What did you learn as a first-year head coach this past season?
SS: That's something I would rather answer in the fall after I go through the whole process. I'd rather wait until the fall to answer that.

GP: You and Corey Williams have reunited after playing together as Cowboys in the early 1990s. What's he bring to the staff?
SS: He was a tremendous player here, and he's always popular with our fans and he's always been popular with the players who have come through here and met him. He's got a dynamic personality. He's got a way with players. He really relates to them. He's got a passion for Oklahoma State. He's one of those guys that every day he comes to work it's going to feel like Christmas morning for him. I think it was huge that we were able to get him. I think he'll have a significant impact on our program, not only from a recruiting standpoint but also in the relationship that he will have with our players. I think he's one of the rising stars in this profession. He's got a chance to have a long and great career in coaching. It was something we had talked about for a long time, and felt there would be a day for him to come over here and be on the staff. The timing was really perfect this time.

GP: How did that conversation go when you called your brother (Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton) and asked for permission to speak with Corey?
SS: I think Scott feels like he got to keep him for eight years. I think he always knew that at some point that we would want him over here. I think he's happy for me, and he's happy for Corey. He's found a good replacement over there to take his place. I think the biggest thing is he knows he was fortunate to keep him for eight years, and he wants what is best for Corey and what is best for our program.

GP: One of the biggest problems the past two seasons has been a lack of leadership. Who do you expect to step to the forefront and be the leaders next season?
SS: I won't know until we get out there and start going through some workouts in the fall. But I would think that Marcus (Dove) and JamesOn, those two guys being older ... Marcus was on the Final Four team (in 2004), and they were both on the Sweet 16 team (in 2005). They're both talented players, their teammates like them and respect them. They both set a good example by their work ethic every day but they've got to become more vocal.

GP: Can someone like Obi Muonelo, even though he's just going to be a sophomore, be the leader of this team?
SS: I think he's got the personality to be a good leader. He's tough and he plays hard. When Byron gets in condition, he's the kind of guy who can be a leader too. It may not be just one guy or two guys, it may be three or four. But I think that's critical. The last two years we've been lacking in that area. We've been spoiled by some of the great players we've had here through the years who were good leaders too. Desmond (Mason), Melvin (Sanders), Vic (Williams), Mo Baker, Tony Allen, Ivan McFarlin, John Lucas... that's not even counting Randy (Rutherford) and Bryant Reeves. But every good team we've ever had here has always had strong leadership. I would hope (Marcus and JamesOn) see the difference when they were young and had leaders like John (Lucas) and Tony. JamesOn was around John and Ivan and the Grahams (Joey & Steve).

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