STILLWATER — One of the primary responsibilities of an assistant basketball coach is recruiting, and Mike Boynton has an entirely new group of recruiters this summer.
Cannen Cunningham is off helping with Cade Cunningham’s transition to the NBA, Erik Pastrana is gone to Florida and Scott Sutton has moved to an administrative role. Enter Terrence Rencher, David Cason and Larry Blunt, who, along with Boynton, will be tasked with keeping the pipeline of high-level prospects flowing into Stillwater. Then the new assistants have to be able to develop those prospects when they get to OSU.
“It’s nice that [Cade Cunningham] is going to walk across the stage as the No. 1 pick, but we don’t get those every year,” Boynton said last week. “You get Avery Andersons and Kalib Boones, who gotta get better. So build the relationships and have them buy in to you being able to help them.”
A lot of times, assistants will have areas of expertise on the recruiting trail. Pastrana was a prime example of that, as he went hard on his home state of Florida. OSU offered a combined 23 prospects from Florida in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes, according to 247Sports. In the three years before Pastrana got to Stillwater, OSU offered a combined 15 of that same demographic.
OSU’s new staff doesn’t seem to be quite as deeply rooted in a certain spot as Pastrana was in Florida. That could be a benefit for the Pokes, or perhaps it’s too soon to tell.
Boynton spoke glowingly about Rencher’s and Cason’s ties to Texas, despite neither guy being from Texas originally.
Rencher, a Bronx native, is the University of Texas’ all-time leading scorer. He has also coached at Texas State and Sam Houston State.
Cason, a Baltimore native, has spent time as an assistant at Texas and TCU.
The Lone Star State is a fertile recruiting ground for all of OSU’s athletic teams. The Cowboys have four scholarship players on their 2021-22 roster from Texas. Five of the Top 6 signees in OSU history, according to 247Sports, were Texans.
|Cade Cunningham||Arlington, Texas|
|Gerald Green||Houston, Texas|
|Le’Bryan Nash||Dallas, Texas|
|Marcus Smart||Flower Mound, Texas|
|Keith Brumbaugh||Deland, Florida|
|Byron Eaton||Dallas, Texas|
“If you look at my roster, you know where we live,” Boynton said. “We live in Texas. That’s going to be important as we move forward. Larry will be a little bit of an outsider, but he’ll catch up pretty quickly down there as well.”
As important as recruiting Texas is for OSU, it isn’t the only place this staff has ins at.
Rencher was reported to have been in line to replace Cannen Cunningham on OSU’s staff on April 8. Since that date, OSU offered two 2022 prospects from the Northeast and seven 2023 prospects from the Northeast.
Rencher has also coached on the West Coast at San Diego and said he doesn’t want to be labeled as a specialist to any one region.
“Spending so much time in this region, as a player at Texas then coaching at Texas State, Sam Houston, Tulsa, I’m just kinda much more familiar with this region,” Rencher said. “Obviously, I’m always tapped in back in the Northeast, as well. But just the way this thing is evolving, the landscape of recruiting with the transfer portal, it’s almost like every job is a national job now.”
Cason was instrumental in recruiting Jordan Clarkson (San Antonio, Texas) to Tulsa and Andrew Jones (Irving, Texas) to Texas. But, Cason’s 25-plus years of experience means his ties expand farther than the misshapen Texas border, as well.
“When you have a chance to work at Texas, you have a chance to work at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, North Carolina, then you build, whether you want to or not, you build a national network,” Cason said. “We will definitely try our best to take care of home, take care of Texas. But we’ll branch out because of Coach Rencher and Coach Blunt and New York, New York, Virginia with Coach Blunt. Myself, I’m from Baltimore. We’ll branch out, but we’ll try to work as diligently and as efficiently as we can.”
Blunt said he didn’t know Boynton personally until about two months before Boynton hired him, a rarity in a business where who you know often means quite a bit. Boynton said Blunt came highly recommended from multiple people he spoke with and said Blunt has “tremendous energy and passion for both recruiting and development.”
Blunt was primed for a breakthrough to the high-major level after coaching at Drake and Canisius. He was a college football player, who had to grind his way up through the high school and and Division-III basketball coaching ranks.
A Virginian, Blunt most recognizable recruiting tie is north of the border. He helped found Orangeville Prep, Canada’s premier basketball prep school. It’s where OSU got Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe from. Blunt coached at Orangeville for three seasons, where he coached first round NBA Draft picks Jamal Murray and Thon Maker.
“I think we’ll try to find the best players that fit us in the culture that Coach has,” Blunt said. “Wherever they are, we’ll go. Obviously there’s strong ties, Canada, my wife is from there and I’ve spent six years there. Virginia is where I’m from. North Carolina, Minneapolis, I recruited there regionally. Ultimately wherever the best players that fit us, not just the best player but the best for who we are and what we stand for, we’ll do whatever we have to do to find them.”
This new group of assistants will already start a few steps ahead on the recruiting trail, though, because Boynton is the program’s head coach. Boynton is the opposite of passive when it comes to recruiting, with him being the primary recruiter of most (if not all) of OSU’s roster.
Cason said Boynton works like an assistant, despite being the head coach. June 17 was the first day college coaches could reach out to 2023 prospects. Cason said at 6:30 a.m. that day Boynton had sent the assistant coaches a list of 10 prospects he had already spoken with.
With that said, Boynton said he isn’t governing every move his assistants make on the recruiting trail. He said he hired them to do a job he is confident in them doing.
“I’m not a micromanager,” Boynton said. “That’s not really my deal. I like to empower guys. I hired you to do a job that I hope you are good at and then allow you to go be great.”
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