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Growing Pains: Breaking Down the Mass Amount of Minutes OSU Freshmen Have Played This Season

OSU freshmen have played 1,474 minutes this season — 312 more than any other Big 12 team’s freshmen.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — True freshman Eric Dailey Jr. has played more minutes this season than the 13 freshmen at UCF, Texas, BYU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and TCU combined.

Oklahoma State freshmen have accounted for 1,474 minutes played this season — by far the most in the Big 12. Baylor is next with its freshmen playing 1,162 minutes this season. Half of the league hasn’t even had their freshman play more than 312 minutes — the difference between OSU and second-place Baylor.

Team Freshmen Minutes
Oklahoma State 1,474
Baylor 1,162
Kansas 935
Iowa State 774
Kansas State 660
Cincinnati 340
Houston 334
West Virginia 312
UCF 248
Texas 93
BYU 57
Oklahoma 50
Texas Tech 33

The Cowboys have two of the top five freshmen in the conference in terms of minutes played. Dailey has played 509 minutes, good for third among league freshmen, and Brandon Garrison has played 460, good for fourth. Iowa State’s Milan Momcilovic leads the way in the Big 12, having played 611 minutes to this point, while Baylor’s Ja’Kobe Walter (602 minutes) is second.

Four Cowboys rank in the top 15 of freshmen minutes played in the league. No other team has more than two freshmen in the top 15.

All of that inexperience has been a major factor in the Cowboys being 9-12 at this point in the season.

How Did the Cowboys Get Here?

Well, they signed a big freshman class, but that doesn’t necessarily provide the full picture.

The Cowboys signed Garrison, Justin McBride, Jamyron Keller and Connor Dow in November of 2023. At that time, the Cowboys also had a roster full of players that could return for this season — but few did.

Avery Anderson, Kalib Boone, Moussa Cisse, Tyreek Smith and Woody Newton (three of whom graduated from OSU) all headed for the portal after last season. That led to OSU’s staff needing more newcomers to make up for the lost numbers. So in the spring, OSU signed one more freshman (Dailey) before filling out the roster with transfers in Javon Small, Jarius Hicklen, Mike Marsh and Isaiah Miranda.

There’s also an interesting caveat to the portal this past offseason. Initially, two-time transfers were supposed to sit out a season before playing at their third school. Boynton said that made his staff stay away from two-time guys who weren’t graduate transfers. But then after the season started, it was announced that those two-time transfers could play.

Last season’s portal movement, both in and out, particularly hurt the Cowboys’ frontcourt. It looked initially as if Garrison would learn college basketball and OSU’s systems from some combination of Boone, Smith and Cisse. Instead, he has played 460 minutes through 21 games alongside Marsh, who is also new to the program, and Miranda — an oft-injured redshirt freshman who has since left the team.

That lack of depth has also pushed Dailey into playing some small-ball center as of late, as Marsh has scored just seven points and grabbed 12 rebounds combined in Big 12 play.

In a lot of ways, the transfer portal has been bad for high school seniors taking a step to the next level. After going through what he has gone through this season, Boynton said he can’t see another year where he would take a big freshman class.

“I love our guys,” Boynton said. “The reality is, though, it’s probably not smart [to take a class this big] because you don’t have time. All the things they have to learn, there’s not enough time to help them and still win the games. You gotta focus on winning the games, which means you’re neglecting some of their development. We’re asking Brandon Garrison to do things he’s just not ready to do yet, but he’s out there. We need him to do it now.

“I don’t want want to give a hard, fast no [on taking another big freshman class], but my staff is going to have a hard time convincing me to take more than one or two freshmen.”

OSU signed one high schooler in the early period in Jeremiah Johnson.

Boynton’s History with Freshmen Minutes

The past two seasons have seen OSU freshmen total just 466 combined minutes — all coming last season from Quion Williams (446) and walk-on Naz Brown (20).

But this isn’t the first time an OSU season under Mike Boynton has involved a heavy amount of minutes from freshmen. During the 2020-21 season, aka the Cade Cunningham season, OSU freshmen accounted for 2,340 minutes. Cunningham was OSU’s leading minute-getter that season, playing 956. But the Cowboys also had a big freshman class along with the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick. Rondel Walker played 740 minutes and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe played 612.

The Cowboys are on pace to finish around the 2,340 minutes that OSU’s freshmen played that year, but are doing so without the No. 1 pick.

The year before also featured a healthy amount of minutes from newbies. Anderson, Boone, Keylan Boone and Chris Harris were all freshmen on that squad. But the difference with that group is they were supplemented with experienced guys. Lindy Waters, Cameron McGriff and Thomas Dziagwa were all in their senior seasons, and the Cowboys had Isaac Likekele and Yor Anei back as sophomores after playing a lot the year before.

Speaking of: freshmen accounted for 2,268 total minutes of the Cowboys’ 2018-19 season, but that year was its own different animal. Likekele and Anei combined for 1,557 minutes. That was the year freshmen Maurice Calloo and Kentrevious Jones were booted from the team, and Boynton held open tryouts on campus to fill out his roster. Five walk-on freshmen combined to play 81 minutes that season.

Zack Dawson was the only freshman to play in Boynton’s first season, playing 50 minutes before leaving the team midway through the year.

Season Freshman Minutes
2023-24* 1,474
2022-23 466
2021-22 0
2020-21 2,340
2019-20 1,526
2018-19 2,268
2017-18 50

*season ongoing

So there have been heavy freshmen minutes before, but what makes this year feel different?

“I think those other teams had the luxury of a lot of other experienced guys with them,” Boynton said. “This team doesn’t. Even our ‘older guys’ are fairly new to this. Marsh, Hicklen, Javon, they’ve played college basketball, but they didn’t do it here. They didn’t go Kansas, K-State, Houston ever.

“… I think that’s been the thing that we’ve had to ask these guys to carry more on their plates as freshmen to give us a chance to win, which most of the time they’re not quite ready to do it consistently yet.”

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