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Five Thoughts on Oklahoma State’s Spanish Exhibition Tour

On Javon Small, freshmen and more.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The Cowboys closed out their exhibition tour at 1-2 after an 85-73 loss in Barcelona on Sunday.

The game results might be disappointing, but overall this was a good trip for OSU to get a jump start on the 2023-24 season with all the new pieces Mike Boynton has. This team has nine new scholarship players on its roster, so this experience should be incredibly valuable heading into regular practices.

Here are five thoughts from the exhibition tour as a whole.

1. Javon Small Shows Out

It’s easy to see why Boynton has been so vocal about Javon Small — the East Carolina transfer can hoop.

Small finished with a team-high 15 points Sunday — going 2-for-5 from 3 in the process. But his impact in Spain was most felt through his playmaking. This is not me comparing Small to Cade Cunningham, but it has been since Cunningham that OSU had a point guard able to control pace and flow on the offensive end like Small does.

Small always seems in control, and he always seems to know where his four other teammates are. And this is all after only a handful of practices. I’m excited to see what Small looks like the more this team meshes.

2. Eric Dailey Knows Where the Basket Is

The assumption of an incoming college freshman playing overseas against grown men would probably be that the freshman will play timidly. Eric Dailey Jr. goes against that assumption.

Dailey averaged 11 points a game in Spain. He was the only Cowboy to score in double figures in every game. He is going to get his shots up, which is an exciting idea for a prospect of Dailey’s caliber.

There were times I thought Dailey was a little overly aggressive, but with his ability to rebound and pass for a guy of his size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds), you can see the pieces there for a great college basketball player.

3. ‘Equal-Opportunity’ Shooting

The Cowboys stunk from 3 on Sunday, which could send off some alarm bells after watching the Pokes’ subpar shooting last season.

At one point, I had the Pokes at 1-for-14 from 3 (it got a little better from that point on). And — like last season — a lot of the looks were open ones that would’ve been irresponsible to not take. The opposition was going under screens, daring OSU to shoot.

But, it is an exhibition game in August in a tiny gym in Barcelona, so let’s all try our best to not overreact — yet.

Associate head coach Terrence Rencher joined the stream at one point and said it’s ‘equal-opportunity shooting’ right now — meaning no one was necessarily going to get in trouble for pulling up as the Cowboys try to find out which players they’re comfortable shooting when.

Of the 11 Cowboys that played Sunday, 10 attempted a 3-pointer. I had North Florida transfer Jarius Hicklen at 0-for-5 from deep at halftime, but shooter’s shoot, as Thomas Dziagwa often said. Hicklen ended up hitting back-to-back triples in the second half after also finishing on fire in Game 2.

So, yes, shooting was rough Sunday. But it’s early (it’s August). So, I vote for cautious optimism at least until December.

4. Jamyron Keller Fits

I talked a little bit about fits after Game 2 — noting that this team with a lot of new pieces will need to learn how to fit as one. One person who seemingly didn’t have an issue with that in Spain was freshman Jamyron Keller.

A 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman, Keller was able to fit in a lot of different lineups. Coming into his college career, I viewed Keller as more of a point guard than a combo guard, but upon further review, combo seems like a good label. He didn’t look out of place when sharing the floor with Small, but he also didn’t look out of place when running the show himself.

He didn’t do anything overly flashy in Spain, but he was solid on both ends of the floor. He is a capable passer and will shoot from 3 if left open. It’s obviously early, but there seems to be a good foundation there to build on.

5. Bigs Will Continue to Be a Question Heading into the Season

The Cowboys were without Mike Marsh on this trip (he was there, just didn’t play), as Marsh is recovering from a shoulder injury. That left Brandon Garrison and Isaiah Miranda and their combined zero games of college basketball experience to play against a bunch of grown adults.

As should be expected, there were good and bad moments from the young centers.

Garrison was good in the second and third games, scoring 12 points and seven points, respectively. Despite being a freshman, his body looks ready for the college game. Listed at 6-11, 245 pounds, Garrison also has good coordination for his size. He had a nice step-over, fastbreak layup Sunday.

You can almost tangibly see Miranda’s potential, but it didn’t always come together for him in Spain. He’s tall. He’s long. And he’s more than comfortable shooting (and hitting) a 3 if he is left open. Strength will be a big thing for him heading into the season. There were times he got pushed around a bit in Spain. It’s tough to tell whether that was because he was a college kid going against grown men or whether it was just a fact of where he is right now.

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