Key Losses: G Daniel Bobik (6.7 ppg, 2.9 apg), F Joey Graham (17.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), G Stephen Graham (6.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg), G John Lucas (17.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), F Ivan McFarlin (12.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated SE Louisiana 63–50, defeated So. Illinois 85–77, lost to Arizona 79–78 in the regional semifinals
Durham, NC/Chipola (FL) JC
Chicago, IL/Southern Idaho JC
Garland, TX/South Garland
Milwaukee, WI/Garden City (KS) CC
Eaton is a great fit for pushing the Cowboys' attacking offense. Flemings is a wing player who can shoot and rebound. Harris is a versatile guard who can penetrate and create. Cooper and Boggan are the kind of big-bodied centers the program has been lacking. Brown can play the point or 2-guard. Brumbaugh, a lefthander with a versatile offensive game, could make an immediate impact up front. Johnson is an athletic forward who can spot up or slash to the basket.
To order your 2005 Athlon Sports annual and receive $1 off plus free shipping courtesy of SI.com, click here.
Oklahoma State is joining the kids' club. After making strong NCAA tournament runs behind the college basketball equivalent of graybeards the past two seasons, the Cowboys now turn to youth, counting on eight newcomers to re-energize the roster and maintain expectations of a march to the postseason.
Guard JamesOn Curry, just a sophomore, represents the veteran presence for a team that must replace six seniors who contributed heavily to 57 wins and a Final Four appearance over two seasons. Curry is the lone returning starter.
And yet, Sean Sutton seems unfazed, buoyed by a recruiting class ranked as high as No. 1 in the country by some services even after signee Gerald Green skipped college for the NBA.
"You see so many young teams now," says Sutton, OSU's head coach designate until his legendary father Eddie finally quits coaching. "And talent is always the biggest factor. Everybody loves experience, but I don't know any coach who wouldn't take talent over experience.
Returning reserves Aaron Pettway and David Monds will get the first shots at filling vacancies inside. But they'll be pushed immediately by junior college transfers Mario Boggan and Torre Johnson and freshmen Keith Brumbaugh and Kenneth Cooper.
Pettway struggled to learn the system early last season and soon found himself buried on the bench. His offensive skills are lacking, but he can block shots, rebound and be an intimidator defensively, which gives him an edge with the Suttons. Monds played well in spurts off the bench and could be ready to blossom. He's athletic and not afraid to bang and battle inside.
"It's about time those guys produce on a regular basis," says Sutton.
Boggan played as a freshman at Florida but was overweight and lacked intensity at times. He left the Gators, dropped 60 pounds to 240 and produced a strong season in the junior college ranks.
Brumbaugh initially declared for the NBA Draft but did not sign with an agent. He signed with Oklahoma State in mid-July after previously committing to Nebraska.
Johnson, more of an athletic small forward, is a quality shooter from 17-feet in. A junior college All-America, Johnson can slash and create in the paint.
Cooper, still just 17 years old and needing to develop more low-post moves to enhance his offensive game, would seem to be a logical candidate to redshirt -- but Cowboys coaches may not be able to resist his potential.
Curry forced his way into the lineup as a freshman and evolved into a rising star on a team that featured Joey Graham, a first-round NBA Draft pick, as well as John Lucas and Ivan McFarlin.
Now the team belongs to him.
"I think JamesOn is a natural leader," says Sutton. "He has that type of personality, that kind of charisma with his teammates. And they have high respect for how competitive he is."
A pure scorer, Curry shot 43 percent from 3-point range and scored at least 11 points in each of OSU's final seven games.
Curry is the team's only established starter, although freshman Byron Eaton appears set at the point. A hulking former football player, Eaton is a classic point guard who can push the break, spread assists and score when needed.
Jamaal Brown, a junior college transfer, is built like Eaton -- in stature and style -- and is versatile enough to play the point or shooting guard. Both Brown and Eaton will play a lot, sometimes joining Curry when the Cowboys go to a three-guard look.
But there's still much to be determined.
Marcus Dove, another returner, has shown flashes of offensive ability and offers size on the wing. Roderick Flemings and Terrel Harris are two other key components in a touted freshman class.
The Cowboys are clearly in transition. The roster features just 16 returning Division I starts, and Curry is responsible for 15 of those.
Still, it's a good year to be rebuilding in the Big 12, with Kansas and Texas Tech in similar shape and only Texas and Oklahoma looking like title contenders. If the Pokes can progress through the non-conference schedule, and the talent is a good as advertised, this could be a team foes fear by February.