Travis Ford’s roster at Oklahoma State may have as much talent as any that he’s put together in his five years in Stillwater.
Sophomore LeBryan Nash and freshman Marcus Smart are both phenomenal athletes with the kind of talent that could put them into lottery contention whenever they decide to turn pro. Markel Brown had a couple of promising performances late last season, and JP Olukemi should be back and healthy after tearing his ACL in January.
That means that the Cowboys will have plenty of talent at the two, the three and the four this season, but there are going to be holes that need to be filled elsewhere.
A pair of Cowboy big men — Darrell Williams and Philip Jurick — have been battling criminal charges this summer. Keiton Page’s graduation, combined with the departures of Reger Dowell, Ray Penn and Fred Gulley over the past two years, meant that Cezar Guerrero was going to be counted on quite a bit for ball-handling responsibilities.
So much for that: Guerrero is leaving Oklahoma State to transfer closer to his Los Angeles home.
“I really need to be near my mother during this difficult time for her,” Guerrero said in a statement. “It’s a difficult decision for me, but being with my mom and my family is the most important thing right now. It’s unfortunate, because I have really enjoyed my year at OSU and being a part of the Cowboy Basketball family. Coach Ford has been like a father-figure to me, and I appreciate everything he’s done for me, as a player and a person. It’s disappointing for me to leave, because I think this team could be something special this season. It will be an exciting team to watch.”
According to Evan Daniels, possible destinations include UCLA, UNLV, Arizona State, Fresno State, SDSU, Long Beach State and UC Irvine.
This is a big loss for the Cowboys. Guerrero was a guy that could score in bunches. He had one of the most memorable performances of last season when he went for 29 points — including six points in four seconds to force overtime and back-to-back threes to erase a four-point deficit in the extra frame — in a win over UT-San Antonio. Guerrero wasn’t a true point guard, but he would have worked well with Smart in the back court.
Incoming freshman Phil Forte, a high school teammate of Smart’s, will now be a likely starter at the point.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.