Newcomers and Returning Players Should Mesh Well

Zach Lancaster

STILLWATER – A concern going into any basketball season for any team is how well will the freshmen and transfers mesh with the rest of the team, especially when there’s such a large group of them. For Cowboy basketball, the group of newcomers is just that, a large group.

Mike Boynton and Co. have brought in eight new signees during the 2020 recruiting cycle: Cade Cunningham, Ferron Flavors Jr., Bernard Kouma, Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, Montreal Pena, Rondel Walker, Bryce Williams and Donovan Williams.

However, I’m not so sure cohesiveness and togetherness is going to be an issue this season. When Cade Cunningham met with the media earlier this week, he spoke on the team and how they’re already meshing together.

"I feel like we have a good togetherness already,” said Cunningham. “Maybe just because we're all from the same area and we got to know each other previously before we got here. But I feel like our personalities really mesh well together. Nobody has too big of an ego or anything. I think that's a big thing going into the season because we have a lot of good pieces and everything. Having guys be ready to buy in and willing to come in and work means a lot."

Isaac Likekele and Cade Cunningham played together last summer for Team USA in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, so they have a bond. Cunningham, Rondel Walker and Montreal Pena all played AAU ball together for Texas Titans, plus Cunningham mentioned how Pena’s one of his best friends in life.

As for Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, he’d actually been staying with a cousin of Cunningham in Dallas for a month leading up to arrival day in Stillwater so the two could work out all summer.

"So, he came from Canada to workout with me for like a month,” Cunningham said. “He moved in with my cousin. It's really good to build a relationship with him and kind of get familiar with his game and who he is as a person. I think it's made it a lot easier transitioning into starting to get to work out with him and everything like that."

Nothing like watching the No. 1 prospect in the US and the No. 1 prospect in Canada working out every day.

Plus, more than half the roster is from the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Cunningham spoke on who all he had relationships with on the team and who helped recruit him to Stillwater.

"The whole team,” said Cunningham. There's a lot of dudes that are from my area anyway. Isaac (Likekele)'s from my area, he's also from Arlington. Rondel Walker I had already played AAU with, Chris Harris, Avery [Anderson], Montreal [Pena], there's a lot of guys from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so being around those guys I was already used to. I wanted to spend a year around people that I was comfortable with and family."

Cunningham also spoke on his recruiting process and one of the main factors he chose Oklahoma State: a sense of family. That’s something every recruit that’s signed with Oklahoma State has said, they always feel like they’re a part of the family.

"My recruitment was such a weird one. It was like a big roller coaster, a lot of highs a lot of lows, but I think the biggest thing was the sense of family with the team. I feel like coach Boynton — out of all my visits, all five of the schools I visited were great programs and have a lot of great things going, but the thing that was different for me was coach Boynton is so family-oriented. The team when I was on my (official) visit we went to his house and the team knew every inch of the house like they'd been there a thousand times. On your visits you can tell when a team is uncomfortable like 'We don't ever do this. Why are we making this time so special for this recruit.' You can tell. The team was acting like this is what we do and I guess Cade is here this time. I feel like that meant a whole lot to me. It was just the little stuff that was super important to me. And it's not too far from my house. I live in Big 12 country so my family can come watch a lot of games."

With everything that’s going on with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, whatever kind of season there is, it’s going to be a fun and exciting one to watch because I don’t believe we’re going to have to wait for this talented bunch to get used to each other.