STILLWATER -- We're a few days removed from the NCAA handing down harsh penalties to the Oklahoma State men's basketball team this past Friday.
Those include a devastating one-year postseason ban for the upcoming 2020-21 season, a loss of three scholarships over the next three seasons and three year's of probation.
A few hours after the news, Mike Boynton and Mike Holder met with the media via Zoom and current and soon-to-be on campus players took to social media to voice their support and loyalty to the head coach and program.
Well, Mike Boynton and Co. is now having to deal with the inevitable: coaches from across the country are now starting to contact players.
Boynton joined Jeff Goodman on his podcast, Good N' Plenty on Monday to discuss a whole range of topics and that's when we found out about coaches trying to poach players like junior point guard Isaac Likekele.
“I’ve gotten no calls from another college coach about our players. Now, I’ve gotten calls from other coaches maybe expressing empathy and calling B.S. on what they believe the decision was. But I’m sure some of those guys also have assistants who maybe are circling wagons around. I’m very aware of the way things operate in our business. The disappointing thing is it really shows, kind of what I think the NCAA — we talk about this is about the kids all of the time. Well, this is actually the worst time for this to happen for these kids. And then it’s even worse for it to be complicated even more by people playing on their emotions in the time of already high stress. But yeah, Isaac Likekele’s been reached out to probably by 20 schools already. Cade’s [Cunningham] already dealt with the G League on the front end and obviously he felt good about coming here.
“I’ve had conversations with everybody on my team and all their families. We haven’t had anybody jump off the ship at this point, as I sit here Monday. Not saying that won’t happen. At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for them. I’m going to support them in whatever decision they decide to make. The unfortunate part is what we’ve done in building relationships with these guys has been so authentic that I think they all feel like they want to rally together and do this. But we’ll see. It’ll take some time. But yeah, they’ve all been contacted and they’ve all had people reach out to them and say, ‘Hey, you don’t have to deal with that over there. Come over here and have the same opportunity, play on a good team. It’s concerning but it’s not surprising.”
As coach Boynton mentioned, it's no surprising that coaches have already reached out to players like Isaac Likekele. Likekele is as Fran Fraschilla has described as a linebacker; he's incredibly strong and hard to stop and can get to the rim with ease.
However, Likekele took to Twitter on Sunday to express his loyalty to Mike Boynton: "Loyalty builds a bond not even death could violate. #BanSzn
We've also seen players like sophomore Avery Anderson and Chris Harris have signed the change.org petition to have the NCAA lift Oklahoma State's postseason ban.
There's no doubt the situation that Oklahoma State and Mike Boynton and Co. are in is no fun. A postseason ban after bringing in the best recruiting class in the modern recruiting era that's led by the No. 1 overall prospect in the class is devastating.
But the show of loyalty by the players up to this point has got to be wonderful news for Boynton and Co. No doubt a return of the loyalty Boynton showed his players when he spoke with the media on Friday.
“Just from the player standpoint, I’m not going to allow any player to get screwed in this process. That’s not going to happen,” said coach Boynton. “Any player who stays with our program, will do it with their eyes wide open as to what exactly is going on. They’ll understand that there’s a risk involved, for instance, a lot of talk has been about Cade. I’ve also got a grad transfer committed and signed to come to our university, so it would in a sense be his only opportunity to play college basketball, his last opportunity. So, those conversations will be real and thorough and I’m going to make sure we guide them and help them make the best decision. And if it’s the case they want to be at Oklahoma State, then we’re going to support that as well, but we’re not going to screw these kids over again after what has already happened.”