Cade Cunningham’s departure to the NBA was both expected but also a major loss because of how good he was for Oklahoma State a season ago, that said, Mike Boyton Jr has built a good roster set for this team to return to the NCAA Tournament. While Cunningham’s presence was big, the roster around him was still very talented and was able to win games even without him having a monster game. The theme of this year’s team should be defense, they return a good defensive backcourt, while adding maybe the most gifted defensive center on the transfer market in Moussa Cisse. If the offense can come together around that should-be stout defense, this is a team that could be a darkhorse Final Four team.
While Cunningham was the batman on offense, Avery Anderson made for one great robin, as he emerged as a clear secondary scorer on the roster and even won them games when Cunningham was out. Anderson is a good scorer, who can make shots from all over the court, but especially excels in the mid-range. He should be even better this season being now the primary option offensively. Isaac “Ice” Likekele’s scoring output dropped a season ago, his efficiency went up, Ice will now step back into the role as starting point guard. His role will be as the super-glue guy, he’s a great defender, good passer, and while he isn’t a threat from deep, he’s good at scoring around the rim.
The team will also look for sophomore breakouts from Rondel Walker and Kansas transfer Bryce Thompson, who both have the potential to have big seasons for the Pokes. Walker is a good versatile defender because of his length and athleticism, while a solid option offensively, the key will be for him to develop his shot, as he was below average a season ago. Thompson is a former five-star recruit, who has shades of Miles McBride in that he was a good mid-range shooter, who just didn’t have the threes fall a season ago. Better range, mixed with better luck and no injuries could lead Thomspon to be a major breakout player, who could be the team’s leading scorer this season.
The Boone brothers present this team with two different skill sets that should translate pretty well going into this season. Kalib will likely start at the four and will present this team with one of the most efficient post scorers in College Basketball, while he is a good defender, rebounder, and shot-blocker. Kalib is one of those players that is just extremely valuable when on the court, making him impossible to bench. Keylan is a little bit different than his brother, while Kalib is great in the post, Keylan provides maybe more defensive attention because of his ability to shoot it from deep, he also is a good finisher around the rim and could be someone that takes a step forward this season.
Moussa Cisse is the big addition of the offseason, both from an overall value perspective and the fact that he might be one of the longest players in College Basketball. Cisse is a good defender, who can block every shot within his 7’7 wingspan’s reach, plus he has the ability to chase guards off the perimeter. Cisse still has no idea how to score the basketball, which could be a slight problem but he still has potential and that is something to give hope for this season.
Matthew-Alexander Moncreiffe presents the team with a forward who is a good overall player, but probably will have to add something to his game to see a major minute increase. Bryce Williams provides this team with someone who can shoot it at a high level from the perimeter, although his size keeps him from being a major offensive threat.
Overall this Oklahoma State has the potential to have one of the defenses in College Basketball and that will be the thing that carries this team this season. Cisse and Kalib Boone will make it tough for offenses to try to score on the interior and that is without even mentioning that Ice Likekele is a great defender, plus Avery Anderson, Rondel Walker, and Bryce Thompson all are plus defenders as well. This is a defense that really has no weaknesses and should be at a bare minimum a Top-10 defense in the sport.
The offense will be key for this team to achieve similar levels of success as a season ago, while Anderson and Likekele were both good players a season ago, neither have necessarily thrived being the go-to scorer, Kalib Boone is a good post scorer, but can’t shoot, Bryce Thompson and Rondel Walker weren’t great shooters last year, so how will they develop this season will be a concern. Just in general, shooting and floor-spacing is just not a strength of this team. Ultimately I expect Thompson and Anderson will take big steps forward, allowing this team to unlock much of their offensive potential, but that’s no guarantee. Yes, this team has Final Four potential, but a cold shooting night in the early rounds could have this team exiting the Tournament sooner than they would like.
PG: Isaac Likekele
SG: Avery Anderson
SF: Bryce Thompson
PF: Kalib Boone
C: Moussa Cisse
B1: Rondel Walker
B2: Matthew-Alexander Moncreiffe
B3: Keylan Boone
B4: Bryce Williams