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Oklahoma State Basketball

Javon Small Proved He’s Going To Be a Force in the Big 12 Next Season

March 13, 2024

STILLWATER – There’s going to be a ton of discussion over the next week about what went wrong with Oklahoma State’s season. There’s also going to be a ton of continued discussion on whether or not the administration should keep this coaching staff and how the coaching staff is going to try and retain the talented players on this roster. 

The discussion throughout the season has been how the program is going to be able to fight off programs who are trying to get freshmen Brandon Garrison and Eric Dailey Jr. to transfer after the season. Head coach Mike Boynton has said multiple times throughout the season teams across the country and Big 12 have been in contact with several of the players. 

Yes, keeping both Garrison and Dailey, as well as Jamyron Keller, is obviously a top priority for this staff. But a player whose improvement and success on the court throughout this past season, especially down the stretch, will be key to whatever success the team has next year, and that’s Javon Small. 

A transfer out of East Carolina, Small was tabbed a Big 12 honorable mention following the regular season and for good reason. He finished the year averaging 15.1 points per game on 44% shooting from the floor and 37% from 3-point range. He led the team in both shot attempts and makes (149-of-338), assists (127), points per game, minutes per game (33.0), 3-point percentage and was second on the team in steals (31). 

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Small missed the first game of the season and then started the following 31 games, and it would be easier to count the games he didn’t score double digits in as he recorded double figures in 24 of those 31 games, including a career-high 34 points against BYU in the final game of the regular season. Six of those 24 games, Small recorded 20 or more points.

Small told the media following the Pokes’ 77-62 loss to UCF on Tuesday he needs to improve vocally. Turnovers were an issue as he led the team in that category with 97, 36 more than Quion Williams. 

"It's who I know he can be as a leader,” Boynton said of Small. “I'm glad he spoke to wanting to improve in that area vocally, because I think he can be a great player, but part of that is embracing that responsibility and taking that ownership. So, to see him keep competing is what we expect. It's part of the standard of the program. You don't play the game by the scoreboard; you play the game to impact the scoreboard, and I thought he always did throughout the year, but hated that we didn't have more success for him and his teammates."

As good as Small was this season, he wasn’t able to do it alone as this team was just too young and inexperienced and was overwhelmed by Big 12 play. The young players on the team, Dailey, Garrison, Keller, who each played very well at times and all improved throughout the season, obviously need to continue to grow, develop and improve their games.

“Sometimes it's hard to explain because at the end of the day, the results are really where the focus is,” Boynton said on Tuesday. “But I think -- I don't know this for sure, I think we played the youngest team in our league in terms of people who weren't experienced in college basketball playing. That's a difficult thing to learn, but I saw Brandon Garrison get better from the beginning of the year to the end. I saw Eric Dailey get better from the beginning of the year to the end, same with Jamyron Keller. I saw us compete more as the season went along. We struggled out of the gate in conference play, played good our first game but didn't moving forward. So more particular seeing players grow up and at the same time collectively we gotta learn how to win and there is a process in and of itself in that.”

Depending on what happens over the next month, if the coaching staff is retained, if they’re able to take a jump up in NIL spending and retain the core group of players and play the portal well, the Pokes have chance to be very dangerous next season. But there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty and challenges ahead of the entire program.

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