New Oklahoma State basketball coach Mike Boynton knows what it takes to win in the Big 12 Conference.
“We can only do this thing one way: together,” Boynton said in an introductory press conference. “That’s it. Everybody pulling the same direction with each other: the fans, the team, alumni, boosters, administrators. We’re going to get this thing done. We’re going to win big because winning big is an expectation at Oklahoma State University.
“We had a good season. I’m no fan of good. I’ve got no interest in it. I want to be playing this weekend. I want to be great. I want to be nationally relevant because we can and we have. We can again and we will again. We’ve been to the Final Four, won national championships, have had great players, guys who played in the NBA. We’ll do all of those things again, but we can only do it together. We will, all of us, together, get this figured out. As I told our guys, let’s work. Let’s work.”
The 35-year-old Brooklyn, New York, native replaced Coach Brad Underwood, who left OSU after one year to take a job at Illinois. Boynton was an assistant with Underwood at OSU after the two came from Stephen F. Austin last year.
“This is about these guys, every one of them,” Boynton said about the OSU players. “They know that I care about them and I love them, they know that I will push them as hard as I can to make them better and they respect that about me. They let me coach them hard because they know that I care. Ten at night, six in the morning, they can call me for anything. Really, that’s how we got here. This isn’t about X’s and O’s, what plays I know. I know people. This is about building men; 18, 17 sometimes, to 23 and 24, and making a positive difference during that time.”
Boynton said most of the OSU players want to play in the NBA and he wants to help them accomplish that goal.
“We’ve got to help them understand what it takes to get there and provide them with the resources to make them better in getting there,” Boynton said.
Boynton spoke about how Underwood and Coach Frank Martin influenced him and his career.
“Ironically I met Brad (Underwood) through Frank (Martin),” Boynton said. “Frank came into South Carolina in 2012 and I was on the staff that they had replaced. I learned a lot about him that year because he didn’t owe me anything, but he gave me an opportunity to stay on at his program because he cared about me and my family. Subsequently, I learned a lot about Brad that year and we had conversations about a lot of different things.
“When he got his opportunity to be a head coach the following spring, I assumed one of the first calls he made was to me to ask if I would join him. I won’t go into too much detail about it. I didn’t know where Stephen F. Austin was and had to explain to my wife that we were moving to Texas, but when we looked at a map we didn’t find it in Austin, Texas. Brad and I developed a great working relationship. He’s certainly a good friend and I wish him the best in his next destination.”
Few coaches get an opportunity to be a head coach in a Power Five conference at age 35.
“I’ve always wanted to be a coach,” Boynton said. “I’d always thought about being the youngest head coach in the country, but I never thought about coaching Oklahoma State at 35 years old. It just wasn’t something that was in my mind, just to be honest.
“I do have some familiarity with this university though. In 1995, I was sitting in my living room at 13 years old, and at that time not every game was on TV. Not everything was covered, so we had actual breaking news. They went to the Final Four where they were talking about a guy that had broken a backboard during practice. It was such a big deal that I’d heard about it even in Brooklyn. It was “Big Country” (Bryant Reeves). That was my first time really hearing about Oklahoma State basketball. looking forward, again in 2004, I was a senior playing in the NCAA Tournament and we played in Kansas City, Missouri, which was the same place that Oklahoma State was playing.
“I’ve always had a idea that this is a nationally-relevant program. But I don’t think about my age when it comes to this thing. I’ve worked really hard and every day when I wake up I think about working as hard as I possibly can. My message is to our guys that they can do the same things. I’m a walking, living example of hard work. And if you do that, you won’t know when or how, but everything will work out for you.”
Boynton has retained assistant coach Lamont Evans, who will serve as associate head coach for the Cowboy basketball program.
“He’s a brother that I never had, a great friend and a tremendous coach and he will be standing here one day,” Boynton said of Evans. “I love him and he knows that.”
One of the nation’s most respected recruiters,
Evans served as assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for OSU last season, and was in the same role at South Carolina for the previous four seasons helping to rebuild the Gamecocks program with head coach Frank Martin.
“I couldn’t be happier that Lamont Evans is staying a Cowboy,” Boynton said. “Lamont is an unbelievably hard worker. That’s key. He’s tremendously loyal, smart, knows basketball, and for us it’s all about relationships. To have the opportunity, at my first head coaching position, to have someone who I’m so in line with philosophically gives me great comfort and I cannot thank him enough.”
Evans was instrumental in helping put together Oklahoma State’s 2017 signing class, which currently includes four-star teammates Zach Dawson and Latravian Glover of South Miami High School, St. John’s transfer big man Yankuba Sima and Souleymane Diakite of Canterbury Academy in Spain.
Evans helped the team win 20 games and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 28th time in school history.
While at South Carolina, he aided in the signing of Perry “PJ” Dozier, a McDonald’s All-American, as well as top-50 recruit Sindarius Thornwell. In his first season in Colombia, S.C., Evans helped the Gamecocks sign the No. 23 recruiting class in the nation according to ESPN.com in 2013-14.
“I was hoping he was going to get the job,” OSU player Mitchell Solomon said of Boynton. “So it’s a huge weight off my shoulders just to have a coach again so we can start getting ready for next season.”
The retention of Evans, is important, too.
“It’s huge,” said Solomon. “Both of those coaches are some of my favorite coaches that I’ve had in a long time. Having them on the staff, they know us, they’re going to already be ready to know what we need to work on, what we do well, stuff like that.
“I’m super excited. I can’t be anymore thrilled start workouts again with coach and hit the ground running this summer.”