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‘Probably 20’ Programs Have Reached Out to Isaac Likekele about Transfer

Boyton says he thinks the team will stay together, for the most part.

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On Sunday, Isaac Likekele tweeted out a nice message accompanied with pictures of him and his coach about loyalty, and Monday we found out a little bit more of what that was about.

As part of the sanctions the NCAA slammed on Oklahoma State on Friday, the NCAA opened up the ability for OSU players to be able to leave the program without consequence. As part of Jeff Goodman’s podcast taped Monday (definitely worth a listen by the way), Mike Boynton said that “probably 20” schools have reached out to his junior guard.

In fact, Boynton said all of his guys have been reached out to. That includes the No. 1 player in the 2020 class Cade Cunningham, who Boynton mentioned had already dealt with the G League before choosing to play at OSU.

“I’ve had conversations with everyone on our team and all their families,” Boynton said. “We haven’t had anybody jump off the ship at this point, as I sit here Monday. Not saying that that won’t happen, but 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 fortunate 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 all have 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 and play on a good team.’ It’s concerning, but it’s not surprising.”

When Boynton got the news Friday and started calling his players he said he called Cunningham and grad transfer Ferron Flavors first because he thought their careers would be the most impacted with next season expected to be their last in college. Boynton said that Cunningham is “really competitive” and that he “wants the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.” So, Boynton felt it was important to be up front and honest with him.

“I told Cade, I said, ‘Listen, I know this isn’t what you hoped would be the case. I want you to know I want you here, but this isn’t about Oklahoma State right now. This is about what’s best for you,'” Boynton said. “I’m gonna help him through this process. I’ll be very intimately involved in the conversations with his family, and they all know that I care about him enough to make sure he doesn’t put himself in a situation where he’s gonna be harmed in this process.”

A scary thought Boynton brought up a few times in his interview is that at one time all 13 scholarship players could call him and say they wanted to move on. Then to add to that with the COVID-19 pandemic dead period, Boynton couldn’t go out and evaluate guys to even build a roster from scratch.

As scary as that might sound, Boynton said he doesn’t think that things will come to that, though, because of the attitudes of players such as Likekele.

“I think that we’ll be able to, for the most part, stick together and go fight this battle as a group,” Boynton said. “These kids, they’re different. Cade is really the first high-profile guy we’ve recruited around here. Isaac Likekele was signed at Fresno State coming out of high school. We’ve got a bunch of under dogs. Yor Anei literally visited us and Southern Illinois and led the Big 12 in blocked shots as a freshman.

“We’ve got a bunch of under-the-radar guys who have just worked hard and just really want an opportunity to go out and compete, and right now it feels like they’ve been stripped of that to no fault of their own.”

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