Three takeaways from Mike Boynton's end of season press conference

Mar. 12—The 2024 season was tumultuous at best and ill-fated at worst for Mike Boynton and his Cowboy Basketball team. The difficult year has finally come to an end after a 77-62 loss to UCF in the opening round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.

With a 12-20 record, it's OSU's worst finish since Boynton's second season — back in 2018-19. It is, however, the fifth time in six years that the Cowboys will miss the NCAA Tournament.

With the loss, the Cowboys end the season on a six-game losing streak after a stretch of winning four games out of seven during the middle of the conference season.

1. Boynton's future with Oklahoma State

The job security of OSU's seven-year head coach has been tossed around for months now, and Boynton touched on it a bit after the game.

Just last week he was asked about his future and expressed that he "doesn't have any reason to believe he won't return next season."

The answer on Tuesday afternoon was a slightly different one.

"I know that's a topic out there — I don't know," Boynton said. "I'm not in a position to give an answer to that. And I really haven't, honestly, at this point, today, thought about it at all. My whole focus was trying to win this game and get back to the hotel and hopefully be preparing right now to figure out how to beat a team we just lost to Saturday. So, there'll be a time for that — no doubt about it. I don't know when that time is. It'll come soon. But today, I've not given an ounce of consideration to it."

2. Saying farewell to some old and some new

Of the 15-man Oklahoma State roster, five of them are for sure walking out the door.

Mike Marsh and Jarius Hicklen were both one-year transfer portal additions and are now out of eligibility. Marsh was a post presence off the bench, while Hicklen was some much-needed guard depth. Both averaged double-digit minutes, with Hicklen playing 17 minutes per game and Marsh at around 11.

John-Michael Wright spent two years with OSU and was near the top of the NCAA's active leaders in points and minutes at the end of his five-year playing career. Wright saw a slightly diminished role on the court in 2024, but he still scored 8.7 points per game and started 20 and appeared in all 32 games.

Two longtime Cowboys also call it quits, with Carson Sager and Weston Church having spent their entire four years as walk-ons for Boynton and his staff.

"Right now I'm really, really heartbroken for John-Michael and Mike Marsh and Jarious Hicklen and Carson Sager and Weston Church that they don't get to be a part of college basketball anymore, so that's where my focus is," Boynton said. "Obviously 12-20 isn't good enough. I'm not shying away from that. There are things that we need to do as a collective group to get better, and we will adjust those things as soon as we get back to campus and have some time to digest it."

3. Player retention is a relevant topic in today's landscape

The transfer portal gives and takes away from every program, so how do you come out ahead?

Of the 10 remaining Cowboys on the roster, there's a few that could garner some attention from other programs.

Brandon Garrison was a huge standout in his freshman campaign and has the looks of a star in the making. His post presence was oftentimes the bright spot for Oklahoma State in conference play.

Bryce Thompson did not play in any of the final 11 games after undergoing shoulder surgery, but he still has another year of eligibility and a ton of experience under his belt.

"Certainly it's something on your mind, but it's in the back of your mind at this particular moment," Boynton said. "To think about that would be to disregard the emotion that John-Michael Wright is having right now, so I want to think about what I do to help those guys, but certainly not long after figuring out what's next for the program and for each individual player within the program."

Around this time three years ago, Cade Cunningham had Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship game, with legitimate aspirations of a deep tournament run.

In this current state, that feels almost unreachable for OSU basketball.

There's no doubt that this offseason might be the biggest one in years for Oklahoma State and that starts at the top, but it doesn't end there. A possible make or break stretch of months for the state of the basketball program as a whole, which right now looks like a shell of its former self.