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Notebook: Body Changes, 3-Point Shooting and the Unfilled Scholarship

Why Boynton wants shot-makers more than shooters, and what he said about his remaining scholarship.

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STILLWATER — It’s basketball season in July.

Mike Boynton and Isaac Likekele met with the media Wednesday to discuss Likekele’s World Cup victory and general updates on the team. We’ve already posted quite a bit from the availability, but here are a few leftovers.

Freshmen Transforming into College Hoopers

Since the getting to Stillwater, Avery Anderson is up 8 pounds, and Chris Harris has dropped 17, Mike Boynton said Wednesday.

It seems to happen every year, yet still the first summer with OSU strength and conditioning coach Jake Manzelmann has worked wonders for the Cowboy youngsters. Having already came in as the 125th-ranked prospect in the 2019 class, Harris looks like a completely different athlete.

Isaac Likekele went through it last year, and he took major steps on his way to start every game then get selected for USA Basketball’s U19 World Cup team. But he said this group is growing at an accelerated rate.

“They are a lot of hard workers,” Likekele said. “I see the confusion, which we had last year ourselves with a bunch of young guys. This year, I feel like they’re a lot different. They’re catching on faster than a lot of us were last year. I feel like, most definitely, they’re more developed than some of us were last year. They have their flaws to their game, but I feel like as long as they just keep working hard, they’ll definitely come along great for our team.”

Laurent Provides Experience, Versatility

Graduate transfer forward Jonathan Laurent got on campus at the beginning of the month, and the UMass transfer checks a lot of boxes the Cowboys need.

He adds experience for a team with six freshmen. He adds size with his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame that could give him some minutes at power forward. And he adds more shooting ability that could move him all around the floor.

“He’s been through it a little bit,” Boynton said. “He’ll be a guy that we expect to understand how to prepare, help the young guys understand how to take care of their bodies, what it takes to go from playing on a Saturday on the road to on a Monday at home, things like that, that he may have experienced already.”

Laurent averaged 9.5 points and five rebounds a game last season with the Minutemen. He scored in double figures 16 times. His 46.7 3-point percentage was tops in the Atlantic 10, and he shot 54 percent from the floor.

“He’s really skilled,” Boynton said. “He’s got length. He’s got versatility in terms of he can play inside and out. He shot 47 percent from 3 last year. I like that number. We had two really good shooters and neither one of them shot as good a percentage.

“We’ve got this thing going on. We’ve got like nine guys who think they’re the best shooter on our team. I’m talking to them about I need to know who’s the best maker on our team, I don’t really care about shooters any more. I want guys who make shots, not shoot them.”

3-Point Line Moving Back Might Be a Non-Issue

Speaking of the Cowboys’ shooters, it was announced the 3-point line is moving back to the international distance this season.

It might be a benefit to OSU because players like Thomas Dziagwa, Lindy Waters and Jonathan Laurent hit 3s at a high clip, and it opens more space on the floor for guys such as Isaac Likekele, Avery Anderson and Marcus Watson.

“For the freshmen, it was going to be a new line anyway,” Boynton said. “For Thomas Dziagwa, if you know anything about him, I don’t know if he knows the line exists on the floor. He doesn’t really shoot close to it. Lindy’s gotten to a place where he’s shooting them deeper. I don’t think it will affect us that much. I feel good about our ability to make shots from that distance. It’ll be a big part of what we do.”

Pastrana Slides Right In

Erik Pastrana’s early work as an assistant on Boynton’s staff has already paid off, as Pastrana was a link that helped get Laurent to Stillwater.

Pastrana, from Florida, knew some of Laurent’s high school coaches with Laurent originally coming from Orlando. Pastrana and Boynton were successful together as assistants at Stephen F. Austin, going 89-14 in that time, and the two hope to do the same at OSU.

“Coach Pastrana I’ve known for so long, it was an easy transition,” Boynton said. “Kinda built the same in terms of the way we work. Really aggressive recruiting, spend a lot of time here with the guys, so building those relationships hasn’t taken long for him.”

Boynton on the Extra Scholarship

As of now, Boynton has used 12 of his 13 available scholarships for the upcoming season.

Although there might not be a set plan in place to use the scholarship as of now, Boynton said he wouldn’t count anything out.

“We’re always recruiting,” Boynton said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s an imminent thing here, but if I get a call in about an hour that says, ‘Hey, there’s a kid available who can help you,’ I’m gonna take it, and I’m gonna go try to see what’s going on with it.”

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