Hoops Notebook: High Praise for Small, Rencher ‘Probably Ready to Be a Head Coach,’ Last Scholarship

STILLWATER — Mike Boynton is taking a new-look squad overseas in the coming days when the Cowboys go on an exhibition tour of Spain.

Oklahoma State has only three returners to its 2023-24 roster: Bryce Thompson, John Michael Wright and Quion Williams. So, this time to grow as a team on and off the floor could be vital for the Pokes. Boynton and some players met with reporters Wednesday to preview the Spanish tour and give updates on the offseason. Here are three things that stood out from that availability.

Javon Small Standing Out

Boynton brought in a quartet of transfers from the portal this offseason, but none might be as valuable as Javon Small.

From East Carolina, Small played in just 18 games last season before a knee injury derailed his year. In those 18 games, though, Small averaged 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists a contest. It’s that last stat that could help the Cowboys the most.

OSU hasn’t had a player average more than five assists in a season since Jawun Evans averaged 6.4 in 2016-17 — the Brad Underwood year. (Fun fact: Isaac Likekele led OSU in assists each of his four seasons in Stillwater).

“Javon has probably stood out the most of anybody on our team,” Boynton said. “Just in his command of the position and his confidence in making the game easier for his teammates. As somebody who played the position and is pretty critical of it, I feel very fortunate that we got him.”

Three-point shooting was a big target for the Cowboys this offseason, and, though Small hit 33% of his 3s last season, his ability to run the show should open things up for some of his teammates. Bryce Thompson probably doesn’t get enough credit for hitting 37% of his 3s last year. That backcourt tandem could be a good one come November.

“I love his game, personally,” Thompson said of Small. “He’s a really good point, but he can also go get a basket for you. I think we can play off each other. I can bring it up sometimes. He can. I think that’s really valuable. He’s done a good job of making everybody else better.”

Rencher’s Rise

Boynton announced updates to his coaching staff this week.

It was mostly a reshuffling outside of adding Nelson Hernandez as the program’s director of player development, but third-year assistant Terrence Rencher also picked up the title of associate head coach.

Boynton trumpeted Rencher being a future head coach last season, and this move goes a step further in Boynton’s beliefs. Along with Rencher’s upgraded title, Boynton said Rencher will essentially be the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. Rencher is also the recruiting coordinator.

“I think he’s probably ready to be a head coach,” Boynton said. “I want to try to help as much as I can expose that to people who are decision-makers in that regard. He’s taken great ownership in our defense over the last couple of years and has done a good job with relationships within the team and recruiting. He’s done it all well. I’ve known him for a long time, and it was a deserved opportunity for him.”

The Last Scholarship

The question I have gotten asked about most this off season is whether the Cowboys are going to use their last open scholarship.

Throughout the offseason Boynton has been steadfast in his answer — maybe.

OSU still needs to lose one scholarship because of NCAA sanctions, but the Cowboys have two more years to do so after playing with 11 of a possible 13 scholarship players last season. Boynton has said if the right player is available, they’ll use it. He shared a similar sentiment on Wednesday.

“We’re always recruiting,” Boynton said. “When we get to 13, we’re not gonna stop recruiting. We won’t be over 13, but we won’t stop checking on leads or whatever. There’s a couple of guys that we’ve checked on here over the last couple of weeks. We won’t do anything before we leave for this trip but certainly once we get back we’ll have to make some pretty hardline decisions because school will start. That’s kind of your cutoff with where you are.”