OSU promotes Mike Boynton to head basketball coach

Rather than hire a high-profile, experience and expensive head basketball coach, Oklahoma State has promoted assistant coach Mike Boynton to replace Brad Underwood, who quit to take the job at Illinois.

An OSU press release states that Boynton is “considered one of the nation’s top up-and-coming coaches.”

Boynton, 35, came to OSU with Underwood last year. Boynton was an assistant under Underwood previously at Stephen F. Austin University.

Boynton takes over a program that may be losing its top two players to the NBA.

Jawun Evans, the All-American point guard for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, will be declaring for the NBA Draft with the expectation that he will be keeping his name in.

“I am going to enter the 2017 NBA Draft,” Evans said in a statement released to ESPN. “I want to Thank Everyone at OSU. This was a tough decision. OSU will forever be in my heart.”

Evans averaged 19.0 points and 6.5 assists this season, leading OSU to a 20-14 season and a spot in the NCAA tournament despite an 0-6 start to league play. He’s projected as a late-first to early-second round pick.

Oklahoma State guard Jeffrey Carroll plans to leave early also.

“First off, I want to thank all of the fans who have reached out to me this season,” Carroll said. “You guys are the reason Oklahoma State is my home, and why I never want to play for another school. We were able to accomplish so much last season, and my growth on and off the court has put me one step closer to realizing my childhood dream of playing in the NBA.

“At this time, I think I would be silly to not test the NBA waters and seek the advice of actual NBA personnel, but I will do so without hiring an agent. If their advice is that I return to college for my final year, I will proudly put on that Cowboy jersey and give my all for Oklahoma State.”

Carroll, perhaps the nation’s most improved power conference player, only played 4.3 more minutes per game, but improved his scoring by 9.3 points per game over his 2015-16 season. He joined Bryant “Big Country” Reeves as the only OSU players to average 17 points or more that can claim an improvement of +9.0 points from their previous season.

He ranked third in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5), eighth in rebounding (6.6) and third in 3-point percentage (.444).

Carroll earned Second-Team All-Big 12 Conference honors from the league’s coaches.

“At the end of the day, we view coaching from the same perspective,” OSU Athletic Director Mike Holder of Boynton. “All of the qualities that I value resonate in him. He said one thing that really stuck with me, that coaching is about leadership and family, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. I know I’m proud to have him as the leader of our basketball program, and think once people get to know him they’ll feel the same way.”

A 12-year Division I coaching veteran, Boynton aided in the day-to-day development of Evans and Carroll.

Before arriving in Stillwater, Boynton spent the previous three seasons at Stephen F. Austin, where he helped the Lumberjacks rack up a total of 89 wins.

“Oklahoma State is one of the premier basketball programs in the country,” Boynton said. “To have this opportunity given to me by coach Holder and the OSU administration is something I could have only dreamed of. I’m very thankful and grateful to the players here, to the guys that I have played and worked with throughout my life, and to the Oklahoma State family for welcoming me and my family over the last year.”

In 2015-16, Boynton helped the Lumberjacks win 28 games, including a first-round upset of No. 2 seed West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. The magical season capped of a run of success at SFA that included three straight Southland Conference titles, a 53-1 record in league play and three SLC Player of the Year awards.

Boynton went to SFA after spending four years as an assistant coach at South Carolina. While on staff in Columbia, Boynton helped lead the Gamecocks to three wins over national top-five opponents, including an upset of then-No. 1 Kentucky in 2009-10 and wins over then-No. 2 Michigan State and then-No. 2 Ohio State in 2010-11 while fielding one of the youngest teams in the country.

He also had a part in South Carolina landing one of its best recruiting classes in recent history in the summer of 2010, bringing in a class ranked No. 17 in the country according to Scout.com, No. 22 in the Rivals.com rankings and No. 25 class according to ESPN.com. He served as the associate head coach for Wofford prior to joining the South Carolina staff for the 2008-09 season.

Boynton worked as an assistant at Coastal Carolina for two seasons prior to his stint at Wofford. In his two years at Coastal, the Chanticleers went 35-25 overall, including a 20-win season in 2005-06.

“One of the strengths I’ve developed over my 13 years in the business is that I’ve always been able to relate to players, and that’s been no different here,” he said. “I have a fantastic relationship with our entire locker room, and I look forward to building those relationships in this new role.”

Boynton was a four-year letterwinner for the Gamecocks from 2001 to 2004. He played in 125 career games, which ranks fourth all-time. He also finished in the top ten in career three pointers made (129) and three pointers attempted (364). He led the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament as a senior, starting 32 games and averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 3.5 assists per game.

Boynton graduated from South Carolina with a degree in African-American studies. He was also awarded the Southeastern Conference’s Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship for his community service work.

A native of Brooklyn, New Yori, Boynton attended Bishop Loughlin High School, where he earned first-team All-New York City honors after leading his team to a 24-4 mark and a berth in the city semifinals. He was inducted into the Bishop Loughlin High School Athletic Hall of Fame in the spring of 2011.

Boynton is married to the former Jenny Hill, and they have a son, Ace, and a daughter, Zoe.