While Oklahoma State fans were wiping away tears this week when former walk-on Dee Mitchell was awarded a scholarship during his Walmart shift, Oklahoma State basketball lost two high-potential freshmen for the remainder of the season for different reasons.
Guard Donovan Williams sustained a season-ending ACL tear in the same knee he had surgery on in high school. The former Nebraska’s Mr. Basketball averaged about 4.5 minutes through six games, while missing the rest of the Pokes’ other six games altogether. While he hasn’t much of a scoring threat, Williams provided much-needed depth off the bench, and his 28.1 points per game average as a senior in high school could be vital if he can find a way to replicate it.
Sophomore guard Chris Harris Jr. also had season-ending surgery earlier this year after playing in the just the Cowboys’ season opener at UT Arlington. He scored four points and nabbed one steal in six minutes played.
The final gut punch came when high-flying freshman forward Montreal Pena stepped away from the team for personal reasons after appearing in no games through his first season in Stillwater. It is unclear whether he will return this season, but coach Mike Boynton believes there is a 50/50 chance Pena could come back.
Pena was the lowest-rated prospect in Boynton’s 2020 class, rated No. 352 nationally, but had a ton of upside. A long, lanky forward with towering height, Pena would have most likely gotten decent playing time as OSU is struggling in the big man department, often playing 6-foot-7 Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe at the five position.
There is a silver lining in this scenario, however. Pena’s opt-out opened up a scholarship slot for Dee Mitchell, and we couldn’t be more happier for him.
The Pokes have also been without guard Ferron Flavors Jr. since the Jan. 4 game against West Virginia with a hand injury, but he is expected to return soon.
This now leaves Oklahoma State with 10 scholarship players available to suit up, and as OSU gets into the meat of their schedule starting with No. 2 Baylor on Saturday. Rest and fatigue may soon become more valuable than ever, especially for a young group, many of whom have not gone through the grind of a full college basketball season.
The upside remains enormous for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, but quietly, this depth should be a concern heading into the back half of the season.
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