OSU basketball: McGriff providing leadership to young forwards as Cowboys open season
STILLWATER — Coach Mike Boynton perhaps best describes junior Cam McGriff’s value to the Oklahoma State basketball team not with an example of what he does on the court, but with an image of what the Cowboys look like with him off it.
“If there’s ever a day Cam has to go to the bathroom for 15 minutes of practice,” Boynton said, “there’s just the blind leading the blind down there.”
With the exception of Trey Reeves, a walk-on who Friday was placed on scholarship, McGriff is the Cowboys’ lone non-freshman forward. On a team with more than twice as many newcomers as returners, McGriff’s experience is invaluable down low as the Cowboys get set to open their season Saturday at Charlotte.
“He goes first in every drill and we just watch his every step and try to mimic what he does because he’s obviously such a great player,” freshman Duncan Demuth said. “We’re just trying to be like him.”
McGriff displayed leadership traits last season, when he posted 20 points and nine rebounds in both of OSU’s upsets at Kansas and West Virginia, but the attrition on the Cowboys’ roster accelerates the process.
Demuth, Yor Anei, Kentrevious Jones and Maurice Calloo all have traits that excite Boynton, but their youth remains a weight.
Anei started the Cowboys’ exhibition against Ouachita Baptist on Sunday and is projected to do so again Saturday. He has “an unbelievable knack for shot-blocking,” Boynton said. Jones has lost more than 50 pounds since arriving in Stillwater, but he remains a difficult force to move in the paint.
Demuth has high basketball intelligence, said Boynton, who added Calloo “may be our most naturally gifted player,” with an ability to shoot, pass and defend.
But they’re raw, and that’s where McGriff comes in.
“They watch everything that I do, so I try to not make as much mistakes,” McGriff said. “I want them to learn from me.”
His own growth provides a path for them to follow. After starting one game as a freshman, McGriff started 17 last season, including the Cowboys’ final 14 games.
In the first half of Sunday’s exhibition, he missed all four of his shot attempts and had seven turnovers. He finished with a double-double, forfeiting no turnovers after halftime.
“That’s how a junior handles a first half like that,” Boynton said. “A freshman couldn’t probably do that as well, have seven turnovers and not make a shot in the first half, still finish with 10 rebounds and find other ways to impact the game. That’s a sign of maturity, a sign of growth and a sign that he understands it’s not just shot-making that makes him valuable to our team.”
A native of Reno, Nevada, Nathan Ruiz joined The Oklahoman in 2018 as an Oklahoma State beat writer.
A former intern with The Oklahoman, Ruiz graduated from Oklahoma State in May of 2017 and…