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Most Underrated OSU Hoopers: Mo Baker and Le’Bryan Nash

Porter and OKC Dave start their lists of the most underrated basketball players in OSU’s history.



Kyle Porter and OKC Dave recently traded about 10,000 words of emails on the most underrated Oklahoma State basketball players of the Eddie Sutton era (and onward to the present day). Because we don’t want to run one 10,000-word post, lest you all skip over it, we’re going to start releasing their list two at a time in no particular order. OKC Dave goes first.

OKC Dave: Mo Baker

If I am going to be involved in this project I have to insist that Mo Baker appear at or very near the top. The 2001 season will always be remembered for the plane crash, and rightfully so. That team limped into the postseason, emotionally spent, and lost to USC in the first round of the dance. Mo followed up this monster season with a shortened senior season due to injury. I think his dominance in ’01 is kind of forgotten to time.

You’ll be surprised to hear that I have a giant spreadsheet with stats on every player over the last 30 years of OSU basketball. I can sort them any which way, but one way is by efficiency rating. It’s basically a dumber version of John Hollinger’s PER rating, which requires more complex calculations.

Here are the efficiency ratings per game for any player from 1991-current not named Houston or Reeves:

1. Mo Baker (2001) – 23.2
2. James Anderson (2010) – 23.0
3. Marcus Smart (2010) – 23.0

College basketball reference calculates win shares for every college basketball player beginning with the 1995-96 season. Win shares are a guess at how many wins each player is responsible for. Let’s look at the top win share numbers for every OSU player in their system:

1. Desmond Mason (2000) – 7.5 wins
2. Mo Baker (2001) – 7.4
3. James Anderson (2010) – 6.9

Mo worked his tail off that season. A few stats:

• Mo was on the court for 92 percent of possible minutes that year – the highest among any player in the last 30 years.

• He led the team in scoring, assists, steals, FG%, and 3P% – and despite playing point finished second in rebounds. He grabbed more rebounds than Jonzen that year.

• He was incredibly efficient. Among OSU players with 250 FGA in a season, only two have a FG% above 50% and a 3P% above 40% — Baker and Jeffrey Carroll.

But more than anything, Mo came in and carried that team on his shoulders during a time between Final Four runs. OSU had lost the Desmond/Doug/Joe group and didn’t yet have Tony and Co. Eddie needed a workhorse in 2001, and Mo Baker made that team as good as they could have been.

Kyle Porter: Le’Bryan Nash

Mo is the lowest-hanging fruit. Would have loved to see him on a great OSU team. I’ll take some more low-hanging fruit and say Le’Bryan Nash.

Never are we more disappointed in sports than when reality undercuts expectation and what’s in front of us doesn’t match up with what’s in our imaginations. Never has that been more true of an Oklahoma State athlete than it was with Le’Bryan Nash.

I’ve come with some of my own stats. Seven Power Five players this century have averaged Le’Bryan’s 13-4-1.5 line or better for all four seasons of college. Kyle Singler and Tyler Hansbrough are among them (here’s the full list).

The disappointment was three-fold. He was the eighth-ranked prospect in the country so we expected him to be a first-round pick. That’s not how it works. Two, he put up a 13-5-1.5 line his freshman year and didn’t significantly improve from there until the end. Three, he faded in certain games and at certain times. That’s the indefensible one.

But everything else was so good. You know what I’d like OSU to have right now? A 6’8 guy who was an auto 15-5-2 every night in Big 12 play. Just plug him in and let it ride. He started 120 games in his career, always stayed healthy and (almost) always played hard. That’s rarer than people think and certainly rarer than it felt at the time.


Nash is a good one for this list. He always felt like he was close to being a true star, but never quite made it. But when you take a step back and look at his career it’s very strong. And I swear he accomplished all of that without ever sprinting. He played his entire career in a comfortable jog.

We’ll be back with two more on Friday and continue this on into next week.

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