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‘What’s to Say That Oklahoma State Can’t Be Great Again?’: Lutz Discusses Roster, Recruiting and Big 12

Highlights from a podcast interview with OSU’s new coach.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Between recruiting the portal, keeping an eye on the high school ranks, hosting camps and getting moved, Steve Lutz has had a busy two months and some change as the Cowboys’ basketball coach.

Lutz, who took over the Oklahoma State job on April 1, was on Jon Rothstein’s College Hoops Today podcast on Monday, where Lutz gave early updates on his squad, the Big 12 and recruiting.

He has had to build a roster from nearly the ground up, as the transfer portal left just three players — Bryce Thompson, Jamyron Keller and Connor Dow — from the last regime. There is still work to be done on Lutz’ roster, but those three have grown to 10 with moves he has made in the transfer portal. The Cowboys are lacking some size, which Lutz noted, as Xavier transfer Abou Ousmane is the only true center on the roster to this point. But Lutz said he likes how things are coming together with his group.

“Very functional — and I know that’s probably not a sexy word to use, but in light of today’s NIL market, you’ve gotta be precise with who you bring in,” Lutz said. “These guys, from what I can tell in the week of workouts that we’ve had, all know how to play basketball a little bit. They’re about the right things. We’ve gotta add some more size to our front line, and hopefully we’ll get that knocked out here this summer. But I like the functionality of each and every one of them. I think that our guard core is gonna be fun to watch because they’re all fast.”

That group of guards Lutz references includes Thompson, Keller, Arkansas transfer Davonte Davis, the reigning national steals leader Arturo Dean, Lutz disciple Brandon Newman and former La Salle-leading scorer Khalil Brantley, so that group is fairly deep.

Lutz also discussed the balance of recruiting portal vs. traditional high school prospects. To this point, Lutz has only added portal players, but the Cowboys did host four-star forward Sammie Yeanay last week. Yeanay is ranked as highly as the No. 90 player in the 2024 class, and at 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, he would help fill the Cowboys’ void in the frontcourt.

Although Lutz didn’t mention Yeanay by name (because that would be a recruiting violation), he did say that his staff was hoping to add a high school player “in the next day or so.” Since his OSU visit, Yeanay also took a visit to Grand Canyon.

“My personal opinion and my personal approach is I’d like to get a good high school player, anywhere from one to two to three, a year,” Lutz said. “And then I’d like to really hang onto them. I do think that Stillwater is a special place and that kids from this regional especially, they understand that the Big 12 and playing in the Big 12. So I do think that we can make our mark there in the high school ranks, but it’s tough right now. It really is. I feel bad for high school kids to be frank with you.”

However Lutz’s first roster comes together, it’ll face an always daunting Big 12. In his first season at the high-major level, Lutz said he is excited to coach against Kansas’ Bill Self, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and league newcomer Tommy Lloyd at Arizona, but Lutz stressed the importance of getting the ole barn bouncing as a key to being successful.

“I’ve gotta figure out a way to go beat those guys,” Lutz said. “And one of the ways that we’re gonna beat those guys is having Gallagher-Iba back to capacity. Everybody has always talked about it being one of the rowdiest places in the country and really hard to play. Coach (Eddie) Sutton used to always say it was worth five to eight points a game. Well, we’ve gotta get back to that, and we’ve gotta make it really, really hard for people to come to Stillwater and win games and then figure out ways to steal some on the road.

“All those guys are great, but what’s to say that Oklahoma State can’t be great again? We’ve been to the Final Four in ’04. There’s no reason we can’t do it again. We’ve just gotta get the right people in place and get moving in the right direction.”

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