By JASON ELMQUIST
As a 21-year-old from Louisiana, Markel Brown understands one thing: Grandma knows best.
Though there was a slim chance of Brown leaving Oklahoma State to enter the NBA Draft — having cracked some mock drafts late in the season thanks to averaging 15.3 points per game and seeing an improvement in his 3-point shooting at 36.4 percent — he elected to join Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash in returning to Stillwater to complete his four-year career for the Cowboys.
“I’ve been talking to my family the past couple of weeks and we felt like where I’m at right now in the draft that I can be there next year also,” Brown said. “My grandma really wanted me to finish school, I have just one more year, so why not stay? I just wanted to make her happy.”
Brown, who often comes off as quiet and reserved, ate up the attention centered around he and his teammates in the atrium of OSU’s Student Union Wednesday when Brown, Smart and Nash announced their intentions to stay in Stillwater.
When stepping to the podium to talk, he had one female fan scream “We love you!” — which drew a smile from Brown and laughter from the onlookers. After stating he didn’t know what to say, an OSU fan yelled for his answer, in which he responded, “What do you think I should do man?”
When he made his official announcement — after reports had already come out Tuesday night that the trio would be staying — Brown teased the crowd with his use of words.
“I’ve had the time to talk to my family, talk to my grandma, my uncles and we all came up with the decision that it was time for me to ... keep building on this legacy here at Oklahoma State,” Brown said.
Family wasn’t the only voice Brown turned to. The junior guard who has seen his skills improve each year he’s been on OSU’s campus also relied on a former teammate and the last Cowboy to play all four years at Oklahoma State — Pawnee native Keiton Page.
“We kind of talked a little bit about it, and the pros and cons of staying and leaving. He didn’t lead toward a specific decision, he left it in my hands but he did give me some advice,” Brown said. “... Just hearing Keiton’s voice, a four-year player here who is a legend in this town and for this school who is well respected around the university. To have him to talk to, even back to the two years when he was my roommate, I know the type of guy he is and I know he wouldn’t lead me on. I knew everything he would tell me would be positive.”
Though it was ultimately his decision, Brown was happy to see the reaction of the fans at the Student Union. He even made a point — on several occasions — to stress the importance of the fans, and to get Gallagher-Iba Arena packed next year for a team that will likely be a Big 12 Conference title contender and a preseason top 25 team.
“It was very special to let the fans know my decision to stay. I think it was special for me, and also for them,” Brown said. “... I start off quiet, but I just like to see people happy. Anything I can do to make people happy. I’m just happy everybody excited for us and was happy about my decision.”
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.