RA's Take: Eaton, Harris Paid In Full

In the end there were the long faces lining the Oklahoma State bench from Travis Ford's group of assistants, to starter Keiton Page, the backups like Nick Sidorakis and Anthony Brown, and the long line of walk-ons that have helped rebuild the program with their efforts.

Those faces were real long as was the face of Byron Eaton out on the floor as he watched Pitt's point guard Levance Fields dribble out the final seconds on the clock as the top seeded Panthers ended the Cowboys season and the Oklahoma State career of Eaton with the 84-76 win on the hardwood of the UD Arena.

The Cowboys' sizzling three-point shooting in the first half fell short in the second half and the rebounding edge of the Panthers reverberated late. It was small elements, little things that made the difference in this tightly contested game.

Those viewing on CBS could only tell by the constant compliments paid the smaller, underrated Cowboys by veteran play-by-play voice Verne Lundquist and colorful Big East afficionado Bill Raftery that Pitt was the favorite and the top seed and the team in orange and black with the slimmer, but still round point guard was the eighth seed.

That round but tough point guard, Byron Eaton, joined by fellow senior Terrel Harris, have endured enough in their Oklahoma State careers to fill a couple of novels. I know if the pair wanted to write a book, I would agree to help them, and, if not, I would be among the first to buy it.

They were part of a top-ranked recruiting class that started to unravel before they even reported to campus. There was Gerald Green going early in the NBA Draft. There were steady departures from that point on, some forced and some on their on volition, but all painful.

For Eaton and Harris there was suffering and disappointment, some out of their control and some they brought on themselves. Eaton's late night McDonald's runs nearly ruined the McDonald's All-American. He struggled with that problem from the beginning, while Harris was rumored to struggle with another type of addiction.

There was the late season collapses, the loss of a legendary head coach due to a drunk driving induced accident, and a sloppy passing of the torch in the program to his capable and OSU loyal son.

These two guys saw it all, lived it all, and in the end survived it all.

Down south there are two real life sisters that play for a national powerhouse and have been to the NCAA every year of their career only to bow out early against teams they were picked to beat. Courtney Paris, one of those sisters, recently made a promise. She promised to pay back her scholarship if her team did not win the NCAA championship this March.

Eaton and Harris are not brothers in real life, but the two Dallas, Texas natives are certainly "brothers in arms" after their college experience that they have walked through for four years together. If a promise would have been made, it would have been the more vocal Eaton that would have made it. It would have been silly to promise an NCAA title with all that has happened in OSU hoops during their tenure. However, if Eaton had made that or any other promise you would have to stamp his scholarship bill, PAID IN FULL.

For all of the trials and tribulations, for all the talent he sometimes hid, and for all the close misses, Eaton (and Harris too) have helped Travis Ford repair, heal the wounds that Cowboys basketball was hemorrhaging from. At the end of the season their late surge brought the big boisterous crowds back to Gallagher-Iba Arena. They made their NCAA pilgrimage, even helped Ford get his first NCAA coaching win.

For Eaton there was the game winner in the 77-75 first round victory over Tennessee. He told CBS' Lundquist he'd like to win the tournament but he really wanted to be included in CBS's musical tribute at the end of the tournament to the song, "One Shining Moment."

Byron, you'll get your place in the music video and you earned it. You earned a place in every OSU basketball fan's heart. He had 20 points and seven assists in the win over the Vols. In a gut check performance that saw him rolling around on the floor after his "trick" left shoulder collided with Pitt behemoth post DeJuan Blair's thigh, Eaton finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. In the two games combined he was 11-of-12 from the free throw line.

Eaton and Harris took their time. They had little help from the players that were recruited with them and not much more from the people that recruited them. They each faced the end of their college career needing to make a shot at the buzzer and their senior season was a swish.

No there is no championship, but for Byron Eaton and Terrel Harris their scholarships have been paid in full with perseverance and the success that comes for those that do learn to persevere.

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