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The One Thing Each Returning Player Needs to Address in the Off-Season



The Oklahoma State Cowboys have five returning scholarship players on their roster for the 2018-19 season, and this squad will be relied upon to serve as veterans for a team with a significant amount of new talent coming in. The five had various roles last season, ranging from starter to reserve, but that might change depending on each individual’s development. Here are each returning players’ biggest areas they need to work on to improve before next year.

Lindy Waters

Waters has shown his shooting ability since his freshman year, and there were multiple games this past season, including an 18-point performance against Texas Tech, where he was one of the Cowboys’ most reliable scorers. But the Norman North product’s ability to put up points has never been a concern.

With Waters, his most glaring weakness came when he had to handle the ball. This was no clearer than in the Cowboys’ game against Arkansas, when Waters handled the ball the most in Kendall Smith’s absence. Waters had a season-high five turnovers and visibly struggled when pressured. Despite a lack of point guard depth on the roster, the Cowboys will likely end up with enough personnel so that Waters won’t have to do a significant amount of ball handling. But it’s still his biggest area of improvement and those skills, especially in late-game situations, can’t be stressed enough regardless of position.

Thomas Dziagwa

After playing in his first season as a shooting specialist, Dziagwa’s production suffered a slight drop-off in 2017. Despite averaging more points (4.9 in comparison to 3.3), the sophomore’s field goal and three-point percentage dropped significantly at a little under 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Dziagwa has seen the second-least amount of minutes in comparison to the fellow Cowboys in his class, and he only averaged 8.2 minutes per game in conference play. In order to see more time on the court, Dziagwa will have to become a better wing defender and find ways to become more than a shooter on offense. Maybe then he can become a significant contributor to the team in both minutes and production.

Cameron McGriff

McGriff had a breakout season this year, seeing an increase in rebounds, field goal percentage and an almost doubled point average. He had his biggest performances in some of the Cowboys’ most important games, including putting up 20 points at West Virginia and 20 at Kansas. McGriff’s biggest key to continuing to improve is to find consistency in scoring. Once conference play began, there were 11 games where he scored six points or less.

The good news is that most of those games saw him only take four shots or fewer as opposed to shooting at a high rate and not making anything. But even if McGriff doesn’t step in and become the Cowboys’ top scoring option, he will continue to make in impact in other areas such as defense and rebounding, which is what makes him such a valuable piece in the coming season.

Yankuba Sima

Sima had an excellent first year with the Cowboys, showing the ability to protect the rim, a soft touch around the basket and the size and physique to be a more than adequate first-team center. Sima neither struggled nor excelled too much in any one particular area, so the next step for him would be to work on his court awareness, specifically on defense, and slowly improve each area of his game. He showed what he’s capable of during his impressive freshman campaign at St. John’s, averaging 7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 2.4 blocks per game in less than 24 minutes. He might not be able to replicate those numbers again, but with a full season in Stillwater now under his belt, Sima is set to have the most production he’s had since.

Lucas N’Guessan

Realistically speaking, N’Guessan will more than likely be a reserve next season barring an unusual jump in development. Before Sima was eligible, N’Guessan got his minutes as the second-team center and struggled in a number of different areas. His biggest struggles came in rebounding and post defense, and once Sima entered the rotation, N’Guessan’s minutes dwindled. The rising junior has the height to be able to contribute in the front court at the college level, but he will have to become stronger and work in a number of areas to crack the rotation.


Who do you think needs the most improvement? Leave your opinions in the comments below!

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